As I was reading a particular poem from the old 1901 edition of Riley's Farm-Rhymes that mom had given me some years ago, I was immediately overcome with memories of my dad, who has been gone for two long years now. I ran to the stairway and picked up another old book that I always keep close at hand, Lavender & Old Lace. I have never read this book yet it serves a much more useful purpose, and that is to hold dear amongst its many pages all the four- and five-leaf clovers that I stumble upon as I work around the barnyard and gardens.
You should know that my father could always find a four-leaf clover, and he was always keeping an eye out for them! When my children were small, he would go with them down near the barn nearest the sheep and goats, always on the lookout for clovers! I can remember the boys saying with disbelief... perhaps slightly hidden disdain?!..."Grandpa found another clover!"
I have always pressed my found good-luck treasures between the pages of books; when I was a little girl, their home would be a huge old Webster's Dictionary that mom kept in the livingroom on a stand near the front door. But I would also tuck them into any book that was handy, and would rediscover them ages later. (Nobody knows this, but when I was little I was playing out in the back field near our home, and found several clovers.. even one with NINE leaves, so I tucked them into my pocket to press in the dictionary when I got home. Hours later, I was horrified to realize they had shriveled and died, so I decided to promptly eat any clovers I found when I was not close to home... that way, I wouldn't lose any of the good luck they were purported to give me!) I can open an herb book that was well-used by me in the early 1990's and find them in there, along with pressed roses from my Grandmother's funeral and dried flowers from a Mother's Day bouquet I received from my friend Greg's children a few years later. I absentmindedly slip them into pages of cookbooks and puzzlebooks too. But this unread book has been filling with all the clovers I've found since my dad's passing... close to two dozen and counting. My daughter and I know of two patches near the well where we can often find lucky clovers, but these in my book have not been searched for. They show up when they do. To me, they are each a memory of my dad, so I keep them close in my book.
Some sings of the lily, and daisy, and rose
And the pansies and pinks that the Summertime throws
in the green grassy lap of the medder that lays
Blinkin' up at the skyes through the sunshiney days;
But what is the lily and all of the rest
Of the flowers, to a man with a hart in his brest
That was dipped brimmin' full of the honey and dew
Of the sweet clover-blossoms his babyhood knew?
I never set eyes on a clover-field now,
Er fool round a stable er climb in the mow,
But my childhood comes back jest as clear and as plane
As the smell of the clover I'm sniffin' again;
And I wunder away in a bare-footed dream,
Whare I tangle my toes in the blossoms that gleam
With the dew of the dawn of the morning of love
Ere it wept ore the graves that I'm weepin' above.
And so I love clover- it seems like a part
Of the sacredest sorrows and joys of my hart;
And wharever it blossoms, oh, thare let me bow
And thank the good God as I'm thankin' Him now;
And I pray to Him still fer the stren'th when I die,
To go out in the clover and tell it good-bye,
And lovin'ly nestle my face in its bloom
While my soul slips away on a breth of perfume.
~James Whitcomb Riley, 1883