On a bright Sunday afternoon, fifty years ago, aged about five, I walked up the lane above our Derbyshire farm. I was with most of my family, except my dad who always stayed back at the farm on such occasions. My Nana, with her strange metal crutches, my aunt and uncle, my mother Joy and various siblings and cousins. My younger brother, at that time the baby, went in the pram which converted into a pushchair; as the bottom of the pram would move down to let his legs bend. He was a lively boy, so probably, by this part of the walk he was out of the pram. Someone would be pushing the pram now laded with aunty-knitted-jumpers abandonded by their current, temporary owners. There were a LOT of hand-me-downs.
What I remember clearly to this day is the sight of my Aunt Betty – a grown up – crouched down, one knee in front of the other peering through her thick glasses. In the middle of the lane was ‘grass’. The lane was just two tracks of tarmac, so that in the centre was the native mud and grass and weeds and whatever else cared or dared to land there and try to take root.
Aunt Betty told me that on a previous occasion she had found a four leaf clover there. I don’t know how much genetics – a science barely invented – she explained, but she conveyed to me that, as there had been one there before, it increased the chance of there being one in that same spot again. She came from a family of nursery men and worked in the family nursery. So she knew a thing or two about such matters.
For the rest of my childhood – until, sadly, they tarmacked the whole road width – I always stopped and searched and thought of Betty at that VERY spot just before Windy Ridge gate and after the water trough.
I never did find another four leaf clover, but I always believed I might.