I've almost quit looking for four-leaf clovers.

I've almost quit looking for four-leaf clovers.

I don't mean I've almost quit looking for them now that it's nearly December and snowing outside.

I mean I've almost quit looking for them entirely. I'm giving them up for the new year.

I've found my share, for one thing.

As I've mentioned before, after finding my first clover when I was 9 or 10 years old, I went on to find about sixteen billion of the things, not that I was counting. Oh, I kept track for a while, the way you might count Volkswagen Beetles or boys you've danced with, but then it just got away from me.

It didn't seem to matter anymore whether I'd found 25 four-leaf clovers or 36, whether I'd dropped 54 clovers between the pages of our unabridged dictionary or 154.

For the first decade or so of my life I considered four-leaf clovers among those things a person rarely sees, like a baby kangaroo or a pink piano.

Then I found that first one in my front yard, and the floodgates opened. I became the Pied Piper of four-leaf clovers. I was the four-leaf clover whisperer.

The trick, if you're interested, is not to look for them. If you look for them, they step behind a dandelion until you give up and go away.

But if you just scuff through the grass, looking down but also looking around, at the trees and at the dog and at your watch, which is also your phone, well then, one of the times when you're looking down, you'll realize that you're looking at a four-leaf clover.

And when you stoop to pluck it, you see two or three or four more nearby, because four-leaf clovers always travel in large groups, like college freshmen during orientation weekend.

At least, that's how it happened for me the last time I found a handful of four-leaf clovers. I remember it because it was the time I decided to quit finding them altogether.

The grass I was shuffling through was the grass of a Maine artist named Peter Beerits, who shares his sculpture garden gallery with his wife's jam and jelly business that also includes a tea house.

I'd been there before and it was good to be back. I was talking to the Beerits' dog, a border collie who looks like a real-life version of my own cartoon dog, who is part border collie and part other things, including Charles Schulz's Snoopy and traces of Felis catus. The Beerits' dog, in contrast, is border collie through and through -- border to border, you might say.

"Aren't you a good animal? Yes you are! Yes you are!" I was saying, when I looked down and saw a four-leaf clover.

I picked it and several of its fellows and took them all to Anne Beerits, who was thrilled. Four-leaf clovers?! For her? Was I serious?

Well, I said, I'd found them in her yard, so technically they were hers to begin with.

Look! Beerits said to the friend with whom I'd come. Four-leaf clovers! A lot of them!

When we walked back through the grass, I found another clover, and again I presented it to Beerits. This time she accepted it with somewhat less enthusiasm, as if she suspected a trick. Or maybe as if she'd just realized that one handful of clovers was enough.

My friend and I tasted the jam, admired the sculptures -- which are well worth a look, incidentally, should you ever find yourself in Maine -- and then I found another four-leaf clover.

I didn't offer this one to Beerits; I could sense that that would have been a mistake; but I did mention it as we passed her on our way to the car.

"I found another one," I said.

This time she actually took a step back. "Now you're scaring me," is what I expected her to say, but she didn't.

"Thanks for coming," is what she said, but what she meant was "Thanks for going, and take your four-leaf clovers with you."

So I've decided to stop finding four-leaf clovers, period. I have no real use for them and it's clear that I'm developing something of a reputation.

Not finding clovers is easy now, when the grass is crisp and cold and brown. It'll be more difficult in the spring, when every living thing, including clovers, is bursting with life.

I'm practicing now to avert my eyes when I walk across the yard. "I'm overlooking a four-leaf clover, That I would have found before," I sing to myself.

Not finding four-leaf clovers won't be easy. But for the sake of my own self-respect, I must try.

Anyway, I've found enough, don't you think? Let somebody else have all the luck for a change.

Margo Bartlett is a ThisWeek staff writer: E-mail mbartlett@ this weeknews.com.

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