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Friday, April 30, 2010

Big Luck in the Valley

Tualco V. March

The County work crew has not scraped away all the luck in the Valley. You just have to look for it a little further off the shoulder. On my walk the other day I found the largest four-leaf clover I believe I have ever found. This clover, like most I find, announced itself by leaning to the south, turning its four leaves to the sun. I plucked my trophy from its three-leaf fellows and lugged it home.Four!

This Big Luck got me to thinking clover thoughts. In an earlier post I cited this statistic: one four-leaf for every 32,000 three-leafs. I wonder about the accuracy of this statistic. There are areas of clover patch I have passed for years—these patches have an abundance of clovers—and I have yet to find a single superfluous leafed clover among those. Is this the case of mind over matter, I wonder? Because I have never found a four-leaf in these patches before, does my visual acuity “shut down” because of past experience?  Surely there are four-leafers among the thirty-two thousands of three leafs. But I have yet to find one in these clover patches.

Now my thoughts wander to clovers in general. A bit of research yields there are 300 some species of trifolium or trefoil, the Northern Hemisphere having the largest species diversity. That explains the different leaf patterns I see in the patches alongside the road. Aside from the big red clovers visited by bumble bees, I know of Dutch clover, the species that speckles your lawn on lazy summer days—those little white balls perched on a stem. These are honeybee clovers and the nectar source for the Greenish blue butterfly (Plebejus saepiolus),as well as the clovers bare-foot children tread on, at risk from bee stings on the balls of their feet.  There’s also sweet clover, a a trefoil unlikely to yield a four-leaf specimen.  This clover, akin to alfalfa, grows to a height of six or seven feet, has a flower spike yellow or white in color.The abundant clover honey sold in grocery stores comes from the nectar of this clover.

I check my pressed clovers from past visits in the Valley. None are as large as the one I found today. I thumb through A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English until I find the pressed clover squashed between silly and Simon Pure/Simon Soon Gone and Sing O Be Easy. A record-size four-leaf, I think? Wonder what The Guinness Book of Records lists for this category? I measure the flattened leaves of my Valley trophy: 2 and 14/16 inches, nudging three inches. Guinness’s Records, I learn, has no category for “Biggest/Largest” four-leaf clover, only Record clover “collections” of four-leaf clovers. One Edward Martin of Cooper Landing, Alaska, holds that record, ensconced in Guinness with his collection of 111,060 four-leafers collected between years 1999 and 2007 (no update was given). In the UK a Kathleen Jasmine has boasted finding the smallest four-leaf, a 2/16”peewee, scarcely more than a mote of green. (Kathy must have been nosing through clover patches with a magnifying glass.) Ms. Jasmine also claims a large 2” four-leaf and a patch of clovers that yielded thirty-five four-leafers. (Seems like that would be hard to verify unless an official from the Guinness folk watched Kathy pluck all thirty-five.) I believe she applied for clover records but was turned down by the organization for whatever reason.

How would Ed Martin preserve, archive, and store a collection of over one hundred thousand clovers? Seems to me he would have to bale them: the largest (and only) bale of four-leaf clovers! Now there’s a record for you. Another visitor to the Guinness Book of Records page claimed his uncle had a collection of 2,500 four-leafs. Uncle kept his in a binder. Mine are stored in a four and a quarter inch square clear plastic box an inch and a half deep.

A pressed clover is slightly thicker than gold leaf.The box is not quite half full after years of collecting and pressing these “quadrafoils.” I have no idea how many it contains, nor do I remember how many I have slipped between the pages of the books I give away. (At this posting a four-leaf is on its way to Lawrence, Kansas, snug inside Bill Streever’s book Cold, a little Tualco Valley luck for Floyd Preston.)

I think how nice it would be to have Tualco Valley, Washington State, U.S.A. represented in The Guinness Book of Records—the biggest four-leaf clover in the Whole Wide World. What do you think? Should I contact the folks at Guinness and submit my Valley prize?

(Here’s my fear. If Ed Martin found any of his clovers in the Matanuska Valley north of Anchorage, an area known for its large vegetables, where in the Land of the Midnight Sun farmers raise 80 to 100 pound cabbages, my Valley clover might be little more than a pipsqueak against his.)

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1 comment:

  1. Well this post was certainly interesting! It sparked a curiosity in me regarding my own collection. So, I busted out the lucky gold box, separated and counted. 103 four-leafers, 5 five-leafers and my largest measures in at a whoppin' 3 1/8 inch (the smallest at exactly a 1/2 inch). There are clover patches around the area here, but it's much different searching and scanning in the Valley, than it is in the city. Ironically, yesterday I planted myself down in a patch outside the school and searched for a while. This while sitting next to a 10 year-old boy who was attempting time travel, by placing himself next to something with a larger mass than himself. I'm still hoping he was referring to the building. No luck for either one of us. :)