We were at Forest Hill a few autumns ago when our daughter, Rosalie, reached down and plucked a four-leaf clover from the earth. It was truly a ‘being-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time’ moment. One usually needs to comb through 10,000 clovers to find a four-leafed one. That according to Wikipedia!
While I contemplated the implications of Rosalie finding a four-leaf clover, and wondered about what luck might follow, Joyce reminded me of the agricultural significance of clover. Joyce is my wife. She’s good at doing things like that.
Within minutes Rosalie placed her four-leaf clover inside the pages of a very thick book that her sisters helped her retrieve from the car. Nothing protects a four-leaf clover better than sandwiching it between 800 pages of paper! Before I could turn my head and cry “WE’RE RICH!” Joyce had already pulled out her laptop and was conducting a PowerPoint presentation on the natural benefits of clover. People from all walks of life, and a few birds and squirrels, had gathered around to listen.
Thank you, my fellow Clevelanders, for wanting to learn more about the agricultural benefits of clover. Clover is a legume, meaning it fixes nitrogen from the air and puts it into the soil. This reduces the need for nitrogen from fertilizers.
Sure, right, uh-huh. This is all very interesting. Clover is good for lawns and the environment. Does this presentation have a pot of gold at the end of it? These were my thoughts running through my head.
A long time ago clover seeds were mixed and sold with lawn seeds at local hardware stores. A person with a lawn rich in clover was the envy of his neighbors. But when fertilizer companies couldn’t discover a way to kill weeds without destroying clover, clover became a four-letter word (weed) and its reputation as a natural and healthy ingredient for lawns was forever tarnished.
Joyce was on a roll. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, was interested in what she was saying. Even the birds gave her a standing ovation when she mentioned that clover enriches soil which attracts more earthworms. But when was she going to talk about the luck of Rosalie’s four-leaf clover?
Now, before I open up the forest to questions, I notice my husband over there is growing anxious. Could anyone tell him if there is a direct correlation between finding a four-leaf clover and experiencing luck? He’s been very patient and I think we should indulge him.
The crowd did not seem very interested in discussing the luck of four-leaf clovers. What’s wrong with these people? Has living in Cleveland, with its brutal winters and hapless sports teams, jaded its citizens beyond repair? C’mon, someone please raise their hand! I became more and more restless. Their silence mystified me. Thinking I could help break the ice I blurted out, “SHE WANTS TO KNOW IF WE’RE GOING TO GET LUCKY!”
An acorn fell from a tree and plunked me on the head. I opened my mouth and pulled my foot out.
“Did I just say what I think I said?”
Joyce took my hand in hers. We gathered up our daughters and headed for the car. When we got there she handed me the laptop and asked for my keys.
“I’ll drive so you can google four-leaf clovers on the way home.”
We had ventured home from Forest Hill dozens, if not hundreds, of times in our lives together. To get home from this park we have to drive through some of Cleveland’s most beautiful neighborhoods. We sometimes meander off course, park the car and stroll along the paths that line the city’s Emerald Necklace. Seeing the beauty of Cleveland over and over again (with my family) is like seeing the beauty of Cleveland for the first time.
“But if I spend all my time googling four-leaf clovers I might miss something.”
Joyce gave me the keys and I handed her the laptop. I counted four heads and started the minivan. For the next twenty minutes she navigated search engines while I steered the car towards Canal Way Center in Cuyahoga Heights. She was quoting Lucky-Four-Leaf-Clover.com when we came to a stop.
In the early days of Ireland, the Druids believed they could see evil spirits coming when they carried a shamrock, or three-leaf clover, giving them a chance to get away in time! They thought four-leaf clovers offered magical protection, and warded off bad luck.
It’s mostly their importance as a Celtic charm that has carried forward in modern days to make four-leaf clovers a sign of luck. The leaves of four-leaf clovers stand for: FAITH, HOPE, LOVE and LUCK.
According to Christian legend, Eve is said to have carried a four-leaf clover with her when she left the Garden of Eden. That means that anyone who has one can claim to hold a bit of Paradise.
Later, St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, used a Shamrock – which has three leaves – to explain the Holy Trinity – one each for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Christians viewed the four-leaf clover as lucky for its resemblance to the cross. Some even believe that the fourth leaf symbolizes the Grace of God.
The Irish often say that the green hills of Ireland contain more four-leaf clovers than anywhere else. Hence, the “luck of the Irish.”
“Wait, stop right there!” I said.
“Why, what’s wrong?”
“You’re Irish. So the girls have Irish in them. But I’m Slovenian, Polish and Hungarian. I think that strikes us out!”
“You’re reading into this too much, Michael. But for what it’s worth your Grandma Virag had some Scottish in her. That’s right on the border!”
Joyce was humoring me and referencing a Seinfeld episode at the same time.
“Are we ever going to get out of the car?” asked Rosalie.
I looked in the rear view mirror and spotted four restless girls. It hit me like a box of Lucky Charms! Each leaf of that four-leaf clover, that we would later frame and display in our living room, represents a daughter: KEELY, AUDREY, MICHELINA and of course ROSALIE!