23 February 2009

Roll Me Over In The Clover

The yard was just that: a yard. The plot of green space that surrounded the modest house, and it would never be confused with a “lawn”. It was never called a lawn, it was always called a yard, with subdivisions into front yard and back yard. The line of demarcation between front and back was a wire fence of rectangular mesh stapled to hefty wooden posts, like the typical treated 4 x 4’s to be found at virtually any home center in the United States. Flowers and a pair of bushes grew along the fence in a bed born of circumstance and erratic intention. Long ago, the bushes were small, barely reaching the top of the fence. Robins and sparrows made their homes in the bushes.

The house itself occupied most of the plot in the front yard, with narrow strips of grass on two sides, street and slightly wider side yard on the others. There was a gravel driveway that took up more of the front yard. There was not much in the way of play space or sitting space in the front. It was the back yard where one could really stretch out, play Frisbee, run amok or best of all, lay in the grass and run hands through the green carpet.

To say grass is a slight misnomer. It gives the impression that there was a homogenous swath of plant matter, each blade almost identical to its neighbors, differing only slightly in length and angle of repose in the sunlight. The reality was different: two or three different types of grass plus a mottling of clover threading its way through the yard in patches. The clover, frosted with little white-green pom-pom flowers, was more attractive than the grass. A candy store for the bees that flitted lazily amongst the leaves.

The boy liked to lie on his back on the clover, in the shade of the tall trees at the edge of the yard, and watch for planes in the sky. It was best on spring afternoons when it was crisply comfortable and the sky was a luminous sheet of azure. The trails of jets formed a delicate tracery above. Especially delicious was the drone of low-flying propeller planes, the low hum forming the perfect white noise sending the boy off into a peaceful daze to daydream under the benign gaze of the sun.

To amuse himself when not lolling on his back chasing airplanes and daydreams, the boy would often embark on a hunt for four-leaf clovers. Truly a pastime for the young and impressionable. After all, who would turn down the opportunity to garner “good luck” in such a relatively easy manner? The boy was certain he would find one now and again. Free charms to them with the eagle eyes! Many an afternoon was spent on his belly lying in the grass with nose inches from the ground, combing eagerly and intently through the soft leaves and enjoying their dainty caresses of cool greenness.

Finding the four-leafer was always a mini-celebration. The swift intake of breath, the “aha!” moment when it resolved itself from a sea of shamrocks. The boy’s mind reeled in the delight of possibilities; what mysterious luck would this one bring? Perhaps money found in the street, or a new bike or a sudden road trip. All of these things and more would stretch out in front of his mind’s eye. The day would acquire a certain glow with the clover placed carefully between trembling fingers and held up to the sun.

One thing that never occurred to the boy was to hope for good luck in love. Years later, the man that grew from the boy marveled at that oversight.

These afternoon interludes tapered off as the boy grew older, growing more infrequent until sometime in junior high school they stopped altogether. Another boyhood pastime falling victim to the charms of a bigger circle of friends and the sometimes questionable activities associated with belonging to such a tribe. The boy maybe thought he no longer needed luck in the form of small leafy totems. In no guise would he compromise the fragile shreds of coolness he desperately wrapped around himself. High school nearly swallowing him whole, the boy grew up and headed off to college, leaving many friends and family behind. As he morphed from boy to young man to young adult, the clover was slowly forgotten.

The man felt he had no more need of luck that could not be explained.

Career and responsibility fell upon the man, and the only real luck he came to believe in was that which could be created, not found. Found luck was a phantom, a vapor dream that only the gullible and desperate would believe in. The man thought of himself as neither. He laughed at the notion; he knew he was not gullible, and desperation was an alien language.

Until now, when he found himself staring out of the smoked-glass windows on the 43rd floor of the near-empty skyscraper that had become his life. Looking out over the city below, flat roofs obliterating the green yard of his youth. The clover replaced by a constantly shifting swarm of electronics: cell phone, iPod, laptop, workstation, satellite radio and TV, land line, earbuds, headphones, desktop speakers, wireless mouse, fiber optic connections, remote locking keys, wireless transmitter for the stereo…almost every activity “connected” somehow.

And the question echoing in his head “Why then do I feel so disconnected, from most everything that matters?” knowing full well that it was an exaggeration. But the grain of truth was large enough to feel, like the pea under the mattress of the princess. The man realized the double-edged nature of the tools in his hands. That which had tilled the clover under could perhaps rejuvenate the yard. The search began, painstaking and tentative, as hands that once gently combed apart the clover began to comb an electronic yard to be accessed through devices acting as portals. The environment was different, this was no breezy backyard in the shade of trees. But the task was similar. So began a slow, patient search through myriad packets of information often differing only in minute particulars. The task would take time, no doubt.

The man grinned, old habits returning, happy to know to be absorbed in the now of the task. Sorting through the infinite fields and wrapped up in the hunt, he felt himself beginning to relax. This was something he could do. He resolved to keep looking, he would find his new four-leaf clover. Not only that, he sensed one was near, a faint but growing presence edging into his consciousness. This time, the four-leaf clover was also trying to find him. He could feel it in the marrow of his bones, and he smiled.


  1. I feel things in the marrow of my bones too. Your analogies are just beautiful.
    I think that clover is making it's way towards you rapidly..

  2. I'd like to know what the old man was listening to on his Ipod as he searched for the clover?

    Gags aside, I often feel disconnected, it's only when I truly disconnect myself from, well, electronic things basically, and quiet myself down, like playing with my little baby daughter, that I feel connected again.

  3. I like this a lot: "The boy maybe thought he no longer needed luck in the form of small leafy totems. In no guise would he compromise the fragile shreds of coolness he desperately wrapped around himself."

    Need the reminder - living w/ the teenage boy is sometimes a challenge - good to have the perspective.

    I hope you are on your way to finding what you are searching for, IG.

  4. I hope you find your 4-leaf clover. A little boyish luck can never hurt. And besides, you have the luck of the Irish in you! And that can only help!

  5. To take this literally instead of the way that you mean, I still have the 4 leaf clovers I found as a girl while visiting my great-grandmother at her retirement home when I was a child. I'd spend HOURS combing the clover patches for that one elusive clover.

    And by jove, I found one.

    And I still have it. It's pressed in a book.

    Perhaps I can loan it to you?

    No.....you need to find your own. It's out there.

  6. ...lay me down and do it again.

    You are seeking your clovers again, I hope you find them soon...

  7. My clover is the ocean. When I'm feeling disconnected I need to go and walk by the sea ... or just sit and stare at it for awhile. Nothing, absolutely nothing centers me and gives me peace more than that.

  8. life may change us,
    but we start and end with family.

    oldman irish

  9. The quest for something that is destined to be in your life can be a soothing journey. Loved the post.

    I never have found one of those f'ing four leaf clovers though....so I just boutght myself a rabbit's foor.

  10. I love me some symbolism. This was beautiful! Now my heart hurts.

  11. Belle: It’s a deep feeling, no doubt. Thank you.

    Mo.stoneskin: The last ten included Talking Heads, The Blaggards, Sea Wolf and The Clash among others. Right on about the daughter, she is an anchor…

    OAM: I am, and thanks.

    Joanie: I believe I will, I have a new set of glasses :)

    MD: (grin) I really did spend a lot of time looking, just didn’t keep them. You keep yours…

    Ashley: It’s good, and I believe I will.

    24@Heart: I’ve seen your pics, I understand. Beautiful!

    Captain: Thanks, man.

    Dad: *sniff* I know.

    Petra: Good! And you’re welcome :)

    BTM: It is. Thanks. And I hope the rabbit’s foot is working out for you!

    Momo: Thank you. Sorry about heartache :)

  12. Are you a closet Buddhist, too?

    Nice piece.

  13. Love the yard....
    And speaking of clover.....I love that song "Roll me over in the clover yankee soldier" don't you?
    Oh wait.......that was before your time. Asky your Gramma about it :)

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  14. If my Momma taught me right it goes. . ."Roll me over in the clover. Roll me over, lay me down, and do it again. . . "

    Not the best of songs for a mother to be teaching her daughter, but - hey - it had a catchy tune. . .

  15. Eloquent….beautiful…and I love your father.

  16. PHFL: You know, I never thought of that! Hmm. Thank you.

    MMMR: I may have heard of it from my G-maw :)

    lizspin: Maybe I'll just hum it to my Wee Lass.

    MIW: *blush* thank you. I think my dad would take a shine to you, too. :)

  17. "Especially delicious was the drone of low-flying propeller planes, the low hum forming the perfect white noise sending the boy off into a peaceful daze to daydream under the benign gaze of the sun."

    I know that tune! Ahhhh mmm thank you for that little nostaligic gem.

  18. Teri: You're welcome! I have always loved that sound. :)

  19. Beautiful post!! I never believed that luck would be needed in something as guaranteed as love..until.. I loved and lost! Now, if I could have a few wishes back, I would not have wished for a pony, wings, or even a kiss from the cute boy in class...I would have wished for a love that left me breathless but had a strength and perserverence that stuck with me long after I learnt to catch my breath again...

  20. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that a lot of the luck is in the search itself. A lovely essay. It will stick with me.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...