Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Value of a Four Leaf Clover

My oldest son, Wyatt, asked me to find him one before St. Patrick's Day.  Like any good mother, I tried, diligently, stooping like an old woman until my neck burned from being unnaturally angled towards the ground.  For two weeks, I passed the ten minutes waiting for the afternoon bus on this four-leaf clover hunt.  Some days, I even crouched low and brushed my fingers through their thick, tangled locks, hoping to dislodge one tucked close to the ground, hidden within the canopy of average clover.

Yet, even after all my diligence, I found nothing but millions of ordinary threes.  It was disappointing, being unable to fulfill my son's simple wish, especially since it would cost me nothing more than my time.

As I searched, I remembered summers past spent in lower Michigan on my Grandma and Grandpa's farm, me sitting on a plush carpet of tight green grass and black, loamy soil, both foreign to this Louisiana girl of red clay and unwieldy St. Augustine runners.  As a teenager, I would spend hours on the ground, doing nothing more than searching for the rare among the ordinary and plucking my way to dozens of the four-leafed variety.

Sometimes, I'd even find a five or six-leaf wonder, although those extra leaves were always smaller than the rest, as if the legitimate three had stingily denied those stalk-strangers the proper nutrients needed to grow full sized.

Never at home had I ever found these treasured aberrations in such great abundance, sometimes growing a breath apart.  I was convinced that the deep cold of Michigan winters somehow altered the clover's genetic code, making it more prone to these mutations, something that couldn't happen in South Louisiana where the temperature rarely dips much below freezing and even then, not for days and weeks on end.

Each year, I would return home with books full of carefully pressed fours.  No, I didn't believe they held any powers to grant wishes or usher any good luck my way.  Still, I enjoyed them and wanted, now, to share that joy with my own children, to no avail.

Weeks after St. Patrick's Day had passed and I had long since tilted my head back up to the warm Spring sky, I was on a mission to corral my brood of three for homework time.  As I sprinted past, my eyes glanced down for a split second at a clover patch I'd examined too many times before.  And there one was.  I jerked to a stop and doubled back before doing a little whoop at finally finding one.

This past Wednesday, I came home from Bible Study to an equally excited young man.  My four-year-old Emerson had spent his morning finding four leaf clovers in a patch by the equipment shed that Opa had given a lawn mower's stay of execution.

Emerson took me to the patch, and in a few short minutes, I found two more, myself.  Anyone would have thought we had found solid gold rather than worthless weeds.  Still, we placed them in a plate of water, both of us enjoying enjoy our spoils each time we passed through the kitchen. 

It's ironic, how in this one instance, people in general prioritize the mutation, especially considering how physical differences aren't really celebrated or even desires.  It's ironic how something that scientists would dismiss as a genetic snafu, a mistake of nature is much sought-after by the common man.

At four, my son knows these clover are wonderfully special creations from God, not mistakes.  I encourage this search for the unique and press each away inside a book, knowing that one day, I'll need to bring them out to remind him that this concept doesn't merely apply to weeds by a barn but to himself as well.

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