Tuesday, April 03, 2007

North Texas Clover

Clover fascinated me as a very young boy. Regular grass wasn’t that interesting, but I could eye the vast patches of the three-leafed clover found in North Texas fields for a long time, going from shape to shape, which sometimes jiggled in the wind. Even now they mix in memory with the smell of damp earth and the touch of springtime sunshine.

Northern Illinois has clover too, and I even saw some today, but the sensation isn’t quite the same. After all, it’s been 40 years since my boyhood fascination, and besides the Illinois clover doesn’t seem quite as lush as that in the Texas fields. Still, I felt just a bit of that fascination again in Dallas last week, especially at a city park about two blocks from my brother Jay’s house. It’s a nearly anonymous crescent of a park, a slice of land between a block of houses on one side and a railroad line on the other. The facilities are simple: a swing set, a water fountain, a pavilion with a handful of picnic tables under it, and a couple of worn-looking tennis courts.

Lilly wanted to walk Jay’s dog, so one morning after the rain had stopped and I’d filed my story, we all went, Lilly with the dog on a leash – something new for her – along with her mother, while I trailed behind with Ann, the slower walker. It was a flawless spring day, with the leaves newly grown, the air mild and smelling fresh, and puddles of rainwater here and there.

Part of the time in the park I got to hang on to the dog’s leash, and "hang on" is the right term, because the dog was moving. Because of my brother’s and sister-in-law’s and nephew’s schedules, I don’t think the dog gets walked much in the daytime, so that might have accounted for her excitement. Or maybe it was just doggish joy at the panoply of smells that, as a human, I’m denied. Anyway, the usually lethargic hound was racing around, straining at the leash, sniffing everything in her path, and sometimes marking spots with her special urine calling card. For my part, I noticed a lot of clover underfoot. I think we both got a kick out of that park.


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