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There are four to five days in Japan known as “rotten grass becomes fireflies.” You probably have some of these charming patterns where you live: Fat Bear Week. Maple Syrup Season. Quarantine made me more aware of these microseasons. I couldn’t plan, but nature never failed to deliver. Late March, my neighbor’s tree heralds Spring. Early April, and I’ve heard the first Beethoven bird’s call. Within a week, the morel mushrooms are right on time. And for a moment, while the lawnmowers are still sleeping, the four-leaf clovers return unchecked, right where they left me in November.
Today’s 2-Minute Tale
Humble Brag: My four-leaf finding skills are legendary. I should find world peace or a million dollars or musical stardom so easily. In all honesty, as life wears on me, I need the meditation of a singular purpose in a sea of gentle green … the absence of great moral dilemmas. I am destroying nothing (the genetic mutation remains in the taproot, which the plant dies back to and returns from every year). Most of my hunting is done within walking distance of my house. I mount my trophies upon business cards nearly 100% recyclable AND printed in the U.S.A. Yes, sometimes the pursuit feels silly. More than a few neighbors ask with concern if I’m hurt or have lost something, crouched as I am in a field along the roadside. But silly habits keep you sane. Sometimes they even become a religious practice: I have embraced inaction, delighting as my unsustainable surburban grassscape gives way to a chemical-free bed of trifolium repens. Turns out I am a Taoist full of proverbs and patience when hunting four-leaf clovers, all Simplicity, Compassion and Letting Go … who forgets every lesson when it comes time to apply them in real life.
In real life, I try to reinvent the wheel. I spend too long grinding in unyielding places. I get tired. Frustrated. Defeated. Meanwhile, when people always say to me “I look for clovers all the time for so long and I NEVER find one!” I have the answer for them immediately. If you don’t see it right away, it isn’t there.
Damn, Heather … where was that advice when you wasted weeks waiting on booking email responses or spent way too long searching for your stepchild’s current hyperfixation food, out of stock at the grocery store?!?!?
In real life, I get extremely depressed on gray days, but it is nearly impossible to hunt clovers in full sun. On a cloudy day last week, I found nearly 70 in an hour and a half. Once, I found a clover that grew a nine-inch stem to meet the sunlight.
There is opportunity in shadow, and sometimes you need to reach a long way to find the light.
Feeling like that’s somehow cheating, I will start looking in a dense field mixed with wild strawberry to prove myself, the Everest of eye tests. But usually, I forgive myself pretty quickly and move on.
Even if you know it’s there, why hurt yourself looking in the hardest place?
Often at some festival or lengthy outdoor event, I’ll conduct reconnaissance before leading the children of bandmates, friends and family to a three-foot radius of certain success. And when they really LOOK, they emerge with a four-leaf clover (usually more than one).
How hard and how long would you look for something if you KNEW it was there to be found?
I’ve given away well over a thousand four-leaf clovers during the last few years. Some people have never even SEEN one before, walking within inches of them all their lives. In The Last Unicorn, a witch puts a fake horn on a real unicorn to make people SEE the unicorn. I think of that often as I keep the mower-maligned four-leaf clovers for myself - I KNOW them for what they truly are. I gift other people the beauty queens. I have come to prefer the beaten and nearly broken ones: The magical beast nearly robbed of its crowning petal by a hungry bug. The ones only I could see. Sometimes, I find that one first, and it tells me where the other dozen unicorns are hiding.
Prefer the nearly broken ones, because you know them for what they truly are.
Sometimes it takes the broken ones to show you where the whole ones are.
In real life, I am constantly dissatisfied, as most artists are. Joy is fleeting and you are only as good as your last song. But I will tell you, I was as delighted upon finding my final, 582nd four-leaf clover last year as I was plucking my first ever from the ground. It is never less a discovery. I have never once taken it for granted.
Your normal is someone else’s magic.
* * *
I’ve found my first hundred and the cards are restocked. Toss me a tip at a show and take one home with you. And if fours are too “normal” for you, I keep a few fivers with me for those who ask. I possess a single seven-leaf clover in my personal collection, a far cry from the world record holder of 56. I am not chasing world records as much as hoping to make records (soon). It is not the season of gold medals, but of marigold seedlings. I regrow my favorite flower every year from a strain started at my childhood home. During this fragile season, they need me. But before too long they take pretty great care of themselves, able to withstand my neglect. Because TOURING CALLS. Indiana, Missouri and Massachusetts can come get their clovers from me in person! In the meantime, here’s an unreleased tune about my marigolds (and the girl who tends them) from October's livestream. I'll also be streaming HERE tonight with ilyAIMY.
Love the earth, but hate the outdoors? Hunt pop & punk pollen free at Heavy Seas (thanks to a collaboration with Archive Records). My set caps it off.