"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Saturday, May 2, 2009

For Luck

I remember my kindergarten teacher explaining to us that four-leaf clovers were rare and brought luck to those who found them. She let us spend time several afternoons searching the lawn behind our classroom for all the luck we could find. She then taught us to preserve them by pressing them in various books in the classroom.

Thus started a lifelong habit of mine, with me never being able to pass a patch of clover without scanning the green leaves for that rare four-leaf find. I also religiously pressed them in books just as Mrs. Starr had taught me to do. For years, I have also kept a framed four-leaf clover on my desk to remind me of the magic (and hope) of luck.

I love finding old books of mine, decades old, with dozens of lucky clovers pressed in the pages. I usually chose to only press them in my favorite books, journals, or books that had a special meaning to me, so finding these books always evokes a memory or emotion.

I got out of the habit of searching and finding for awhile while living in large apartment complexes where patches of anything green were hard to find. I might find one here or there when I was in another neighborhood, or at the park, but very few were pressed between the pages of any of my books for a few years.

Where I live now, the yard is covered in clover, with patches of grass in between. I can't go outside without searching, and remembering that as a child, I thought I had a special gift for finding four-leaf clovers. I loved that I could find them so quickly, it seemed as if my eye was drawn to the rare ones in the ocean of green.

Tonight as a storm loomed in the sky, a few raindrops began to fall. I knelt down next to a patch of clover, and sure enough, one with four leaves jumped out at me. I brought it inside, and pressed it in a reference book I use for my writing. There are dozens of clovers between those pages, hopefully working their magic to make my dreams come true.

From Wikipedia, here is a little history, legend, and a more clinical explanation of the four-leaf clover:

The four-leaf clover is an uncommon variation of the common, three-leaved clover. According to tradition, such leaves bring good luck to their finders, especially if found accidentally.[1] According to legend, each leaflet represents something: the first is for hope, the second is for faith, the third is for love, and the fourth is for luck. Another Irish legend tells that the three leaf clover, or "Shamrock", was what Saint Patrick used to represent the Holy Trinity. The name "four-leaf clover" is a misnomer: the clover leaf by definition consists of three leaflets. Clovers can have more than four leaflets: the most ever recorded is twenty-one,[2] a record set in June 2008 by the same man who held the prior record and the current Guinness World Record of eighteen.[3] Unofficial claims of discovery have ranged as high as twenty-seven.[2]
It has been estimated that there are approximately 10,000 three-leaf clovers for every four-leaf clover[4], however this probability has not deterred collectors who have reached records as high as 160,000 four-leaf clovers.[5] It is debated whether the fourth leaflet is caused genetically or environmentally. Its relative rarity suggests a possible recessive gene appearing at a low frequency. Alternatively, four-leaf clovers could be caused by somatic mutation or a developmental error of environmental causes. They could also be caused by the interaction of several genes that happen to segregate in the individual plant. It is possible all four explanations could apply to individual cases.

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