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Memories of Four-Leaf Clovers

Updated on June 29, 2011

Yes, folks, there really are four-leaf clovers. I know firsthand, because I've picked them. Now, when I say clovers, I don't mean shamrocks. Shamrocks have three leaves. The clovers I'm talking about actually have four leaves. They are a mutation of the three-leaf variety (white clover, trifolium repens), and are actually pretty common if you know where and how to look for them.

It all started in elementary school. The week before St. Patrick's Day every year would find me humming I'm looking over a Four-Leaf Clover, Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra, Danny Boy, When Irish Eyes are Smiling, and other holiday songs. I am a small part Irish, so this all came naturally to me. As well, my mom's brother and my grandma on my dad's side both have March 17th birthdays, so it was and is always a big day. I don't remember exactly how I got the idea, but one day in second or third grade I went out to the small hills on the schoolyard where I knew the regular three-leaf clovers grew. I spent all three recesses down on my knees in the clover patch, that day and the rest of the days during the week. Searching every clover I saw and counting its leaves, I put my finds in a small envelope and put it in my desk. No one believed me, not even the teacher, but I just smiled. On St. Patrick's Day, I took my envelope out and carefully put the three four-leaf clovers on my desk, proudly displaying them for my classmates. They were amazed! I really had found some!

The next year after that, I was out in the clover fields again, with some of my friends who also wanted to find four-leaf clovers of their own. Word had gotten around the school that I knew how to find them, so I had kids of every grade searching with me. I found a few, and the other kids did as well. I told them the secret to finding the clovers was you had to go hunting during the few days before St. Patrick's Day. I knew the clovers were there at other times, too, but I just didn't want the other kids getting to them first.

I put two of my four-leaf clovers on pins (the round button kind) and gave one each to my uncle and my grandma for their birthday. They still have them and treasure them, showing them to unbelieving friends to show them that the clovers exist. Other four-leaf clovers were made into contact-paper bookmarks. I had to press them or somehow otherwise preserve them soon after picking, or else they curled up and could lose their leaves easily by breaking.

The last four-leaf clovers I ever picked were in seventh grade. I went to the elementary schoolyard even though I didn't go to school there anymore, and went to my clover hills. Searching, I found four four-leaf clovers and a five-leaf clover! I showed one of my classmates the five-leaf one the next day, and she tore the extra leaf off. I was so mad at her that I didn't talk with her for a long time after that. I put the four-leaf clovers and the mutilated five-leaf clover into an envelope and put it on my curio shelf in my bedroom.

Those clovers stayed on that shelf until college, when I took them to a class of fifth-graders I was student-teaching. I handed them around the classroom, and all the students loved seeing them. One broke, and I almost cried, but I realized that you can't keep them forever. I'll always have the memories of finding them, though, and the realization that I can find even the rare things in life if I look hard enough for them.

I still have the rest of the clovers. They have stayed at the house I grew up in, where my mother still lives. They are safe in their envelope in a box of special things, waiting for the time I'll bring them out again to show people that four-leaf clovers really do exist, and the magic will be there again.

Have you ever found a four-leaf clover?

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