A long time ago it seems now, we went on a winter's walk, looking for a seashell house in some woods not far away.
On the way we passed a small house, freshly and mysteriously made from branches. Only a little further on from there, we came to an old stone bath built into a stream.
Even looking at it in the fleeting-light, frost-in-shadows December woods, this bath is inviting. All it needs is a little cleaning with a rake, doors to trap the water inside, and a nice sunny day in green summer to warm the water. How lovely it would be to bathe in the four-in-the-morning sun, with the woods all empty.
Over the stream, past a tower of mushrooms and moss, and just beyond a huge stone wall, stands the shell house, a low bench, and in the ground between them, a small, perfectly round, reflecting pool.
The outer part of the house is made of moss-covered stone, but at the doorway shells start to spill out from within. And inside, every bit of space is covered in shells of different kinds, arranged into faces and patterns and crests.
On mid-winter days of heavy skies and weak light, it is too dark to photograph the interior of the house without a flash. But that only adds to the sunken-treasure feel of the place.
Crows sit in the branches and talk in wooden voices, and the trees run with accumulations of misty rain. Sometimes a dog passes, followed by a lone, raincoatted person. In winter the sun scrapes and drags itself across the sky just above the horizon. The air is still or whips through the branches overhead. And that is the shell house.