When I was in the fifth grade, I found a four-leaf clover. As an adult, I lost it again, but then I found it all over again. That’s the end of this story. Let’s start from the top…
In the spring of my tenth year, my mom decided to travel to an obscure nursery to buy annuals. I don’t remember what she bought, but what I DO remember is that if she bought a certain amount — Fifty dollars? Thirty? — she got a free plant. Foreshadowing multiple aspects of my adult self, I went nuts over the prospect not only of free stuff, but a free plant! Can you imagine! It could be anything.
I must’ve spent half an hour scouring the nursery for my free plant. In the end, I chose a pot of trailing white petunias, which is, perhaps, a testament to this nursery’s offerings, as I was typically drawn to more unusual things even then. Petunias? White? Really?
“Only in the eyes of a child,” the old woman who ran the place whispered to herself when I came running with my petunias, according to my mom. She explained that, while they were great, trailing white petunias (ahem) weren’t to everyone’s taste.
As is so often case with living things entrusted to children, my petunias’ days were numbered. I forgot to water them, a trend that persists even today. They roasted on the red brick of our back steps. As is often the case with busy families, no one thought to dispose of the pot of dead plants. They were out of the way. We moved on.
That fall I started fifth grade, which was to be, for me, a fateful and painful year, the first of that inexorable descent of childhood into adolescence. Not only were other kids meaner — this year, my teacher was meaner. I’d always been the type of child who believed in the dependability of adults, and fifth grade was one of my earliest realizations that adults are people too, not always kind or understanding, not always right or fair.
So… You could say I needed a win in fifth grade, and in the spring of my eleventh year, I got one. One of the best wins possible for a shy, awkward 11-year-old sprang from that pot of dead petunias. In their place grew an entire pot of four-leaf clover.
Yes, they are real, and I still have one to prove it. It’s a little worse for wear, but it’s been through a lot. For starters, it survived a trip to my fifth-grade class, where, for one brief, shining moment, the cynicism of teachers and the teasing of peers were suspended by wonder.
“Andy, you are so lucky,” the teacher said. And for once that year, she was right.
Twenty years later, I was convinced that this one pressed clover was lost forever, a victim of our last move. I hadn’t seen it for a few years. I have lots of keepsakes squirreled away, and sometimes, like the squirrel, I hide things from myself and forget where I’ve hidden them. But on Sunday, as I innocently sifted through some things at my desk, I came upon my clover. Finally, simply, I found it.
Lucky or not, I’m not letting it get away from me again.