Something was strange about the oak tree: its bark was disfigured and deformed with odd lumps and growths. The narrow path took me past dense undergrowth to the base of this large, dominant tree. I reached out to touch the peculiar trunk, and laughed. The tree was thriving – it was simply hosting a slumber party of hundreds of garden snails.

Whirls and swirls of shells, in wondrous patterns of brown, yellow and cream, were packed together all the way from the ground up to way over my head on the whole southern side of the tree. Tucked into every nook and cranny and into the gaps by the roots ...


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