By Suzy Barile
"There's that funny lady," said 6-year-old Jack as he put his foot on the ground to steady his bike and bring it to a halt.
He and his brother Joseph, who was 4, were riding their bikes along the greenway behind their Aunt Suzy’s house while she walked her dog, Sandy.
Aunt Suzy looked over to where Jack pointed and saw her neighbor, Virginia, leaning over, her hands clasped behind her back, staring intently toward the ground.
Spring had finally come to Cary, North Carolina. And Aunt Suzy and her nephews were enjoying a sunny, warm afternoon. The azaleas were showing off their bright red, white, purple, fuchsia and tangerine blossoms. Small pink and white petals peeked out from pale green leaves on the dogwood trees. The scraggy pines – called loblollies, Aunt Suzy had said – had dropped yellow pollen over everything in sight, from the cars in the neighborhood to sidewalks and decks, even the wooden bridge over the creek.
Two weeks before when Jack and Joseph had helped take Sandy for a walk, Aunt Suzy had pointed out the small cones growing on the pine tree’s branches.
“See this miniature pine cone?” she asked, gently pulling a limb towards her nephews. “Let’s watch it grow when we take our walks. When they are finally big enough in October, they will fall to the ground.”
Joseph said, “I remember when we picked up the pine cones and put peanut butter on them and rolled them in birdseed and hung them up for the birds.”
The three turned their attention back to Virginia who was on the other side of the creek.
“Did she lose something?” Joseph asked.
Both boys now dropped their bikes to the ground to watch what she was doing.
“Maybe we should help,” Jack said.
Aunt Suzy laughed.
“What’s funny?” asked Jack.
“Virginia didn’t lose anything,” she said. “She’s looking for four-leaf clovers.”
The boys’ puzzled looks meant she had to tell them more.
“What is a four-leaf clover?” asked Joseph.
Aunt Suzy pulled on Sandy’s leash and brought the dog to her side as she knelt down and ran her right hand over a lush patch of green.
“Do you remember the shamrocks you colored green for St. Patrick’s Day”? she asked. “They had three leaflets.”
Jack nodded yes. And Joseph, who often was called “Repeat” by his cousins because he mimicked everything his big brother said or did, nodded in agreement.
“Well, a four-leaf clover is a shamrock with four leaflets and some people think they are lucky.”
“We want to be lucky,” cried Jack.
“Yeah, we want to be lucky,” echoed Joseph, and the two took off running across the bridge. They reached Virginia just she was standing. In her left hand was what looked like hundreds of four-leaf clovers.
“Wow,” said Jack. “How did you find all of those?”
“You will be very lucky,” said Joseph.
Virginia smiled. She remembered the first time she discovered this particular patch that always seemed to have an abundance of four and five and even six-leaf clovers.
“It’s really very easy,” she said. “Here’s what you do.”
Virginia squatted down in front of the clover patch. Jack and Joseph did the same.
“Now, look into this patch as hard as you can and try to see something unusual,” she said. “Since most clovers have just three-leaflets, it will be easy to see ones that have four.”
Sure enough, within seconds Jack had spotted the special clover.
“Look, Aunt Suzy, look what I found,” he said, holding his find high in the air.
Aunt Suzy walked over to her nephews.
“Hello, Virginia,” she said to her neighbor. “I see you are showing these two your special talent.”
To Jack she said, “Aren’t you lucky!”
Then she looked over at Joseph. He was seated on the ground, his head hanging down over his chest looking dejected.
“I am not lucky,” he said, holding up an empty hand as a tear rolled from the corner of his eye and down his cheek.
Before Aunt Suzy or Virginia had a chance to answer, Jack came over and held out his hand.
“Look, Joseph,” he said. “You are lucky. I found two four-leaf clovers and you can have one.”
Joseph wiped the tear from his chin with his hand as it started to fall onto his shirt.
“Thank you, Jack,” he said. “Look, Aunt Suzy. I am lucky.”
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