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April 30, 2012 / Rae Spencer

Finding What I Wasn’t Looking For

In trying to capture this weed (which I believe might be field madder), I’ve committed every possible photography blunder. Over the past few weeks, I’ve discarded images that were blurry, poorly lit, overwhelmed by background clutter, too distant, too close, blocked by a sleeve or the camera strap… the list goes on. I almost gave up.

Since today began as a failure day, marred by oversleep, bookkeeping errors, and lost office supplies, I decided to try again. What harm could come from adding one more frustration?

Instead of frustration, I found a moment of complete peace. This four-leaf clover, growing beside a patch of madder, felt like a visit from my mother.

One of Mother’s many talents was an affinity for four-leaf clovers. From her chair on the porch, glass of iced tea in hand, she’d point to a spot across the driveway. My siblings and I would follow her directions and retrieve the prize. Walking into the pediatrician’s office, she’d pause near the sidewalk, then laugh as we groaned over her obsession. Getting out of her car at school, she’d drop a book, reach to pick it up, and find a four-leaf clover growing through a crack in the pavement.

I did not inherit this particular skill. Four-leaf clovers are vanishingly rare for me, so today’s find felt as if Mother must have been looking over my shoulder. The sensation doubled when I found a second one.

In August of last year, Mother was involved in a serious car accident. She died in October. As we emptied her house, day after day of sorting memories and treasures and curious little mysteries, we found four-leaf clovers everywhere. Saved in envelopes, filed with old bills, stuffed in drawers and cabinets, sprinkled across shelves. Even pressed in the pages of her Bible.

The house cried four-leaf clovers, orphaned keepsakes sifting from every crevice. A lifetime’s worth and more. So many that I felt no urge to pick today’s pair, though I was very grateful to have found them. I hovered a while, happy as I’ve been in months. Then I took my pictures, said another goodbye, and left Mother’s four-leaf clovers in the yard.

17 Comments

  1. Betty Hayes Albright / Apr 30 2012 7:35 PM

    A touching post about your mother and her knack for finding 4-leaf clovers. And what serendipity that you happened across one while taking photos of something else! More than just a coincidence, I think.

    • Rae Spencer / Apr 30 2012 7:57 PM

      Definitely more than coincidence, and it couldn’t have been more timely. I was feeling especially blue after today’s shopping errands, where I couldn’t escape the ads for Mother’s Day sales.

      • Betty Hayes Albright / Apr 30 2012 9:40 PM

        She planted it there for you. 🙂 I love it when things like that happen…. we know they’re still near us.

  2. jeaniemac100 / Apr 30 2012 7:39 PM

    Oh. Rae. Happy, happy tears. Jean

  3. cookiemomma / Apr 30 2012 8:15 PM

    Lovely pictures and thanks for sharing your story!

  4. kathrynmartins1 / Apr 30 2012 9:04 PM

    So beautiful, Rae. Your mom found you today…and on a difficult day when most of us would need our mom. You take care.

  5. Simone Lipscomb / Apr 30 2012 9:28 PM

    Beautiful…..

    • Rae Spencer / Apr 30 2012 9:45 PM

      Thank you. (And thanks for stopping by my blog!)

  6. Christina / May 1 2012 6:26 AM

    Rae,
    What a powerful moment. Indeed, your Mother
    found her way to greet your difficult day. What a
    beautiful post with which to share your experience. Favorite line: ‘the house cried four-leaf clovers, orphaned keepsakes…’
    Thank you for your tapestry of words.

    • Rae Spencer / May 1 2012 4:53 PM

      Thank you, Christina! It’s been hard to resist temptation, today. I keep wanting to visit the clover again, even though I know it wouldn’t be the same…

      I hope you are having a beautiful day!

  7. bardessdmdenton / May 8 2012 2:18 PM

    Oh, Rae, your post touches with such sadness…my deepest, sincerest condolences for your losing your mother…but also the joy of magic and the magic of joy, when memories manifest themselves into messages for the listening of our hearts. Thank you for sharing. Four-leaf clovers now will always remind me of your mother too.

    • Rae Spencer / May 8 2012 2:39 PM

      It’s funny how those four-leaf clovers sparked such vibrant memories. I have plenty of items from her house, furniture and figurines and books, as well as several boxes of photos. Even one of her cats! Perhaps I’ve grown accustomed to the every-day memories that surround me and needed this glimpse of the ephemeral.

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