Another favorite constituent of my lawn, exterminated (+/or extirpated) from most others, is clover. Like the bird’s foot trefoil mentioned above*, it is a member of the pea family – Fabaceae. It is most widespread in North America, but can be found the world over.
Much of the year (spring to fall) it but adds to the verdant carpet out front. Just now however, the plants’ spiky flowers are making their presence known. And not just by virtue of their small scale beauty.
Stand before a field of clover in bloom on a warm day with a faint breeze wafting toward you and you’ll see what I mean. Or, uh, smell what I mean. It’s incredible. You’ll be caught off guard and transfixed. Instantly aware of its ephemerality you won’t move so to enhance and prolong the experience.
Now is the time to seek out this marvelous opportunity. If it is windy or if you’re breathing heavily your olfactory will be numbed past its threshold for delicacy so take care.
Fortunately for conformists surrounded by nothing but fescue, bluegrass, etc several varieties of clover are cultivated as fodder. Put yourself downwind of an acre of the stuff and you’ll think of heaven for a moment until it dawns on you that you’ll be inhaling the flinty scent of fire and brimstone for a long time before the visit with St. Peter.
The Wikipedia clover entry holds that the phrase “to be in clover” grew from the use of the plant by farmers to fix nitrogen in the soil after harvesting their primary crop. They were done for the season and could relax.
Could be, but I’ll wager that the person who wrote that had never had the pleasure I’ve just described. To me, “Being in clover” is a metaphor for a state less like relaxation and more like exaltation.
*July 17, 2009
**Ever after first such experience, each time you snap the cap on your honey bear the memory will flash back as you remember that most honey is made by bees from clover.