An Anecdote: Spring And The “Impossible” Scavenger Hunt

Ahh, spring.

Nothing can release you from the icy grip of Netflix quite like a few warm, sunny days in a row. And while spring can definitely be a volatile season, the warmer days eventually win. (Until it becomes the fiery, sweltering, charbroiled, mosquito-ridden season known as summer, which is another story for another day.)

Very few people are immune to the inherent charm of springtime. When I was in junior high, I remember it being the perfect time for some of our teachers to take us outside to do a little exploring to enhance our regular lessons. (An “Outside Day” in my P.E. class is where I learned that my best time “running” a mile was a record-breaking twelve minutes. Take that, Roger Bannister.)

In the seventh grade, I had to take a science class, just like every other seventh-grader everywhere. Being an early junior high course, naturally, it was a precursor designed to serve as the foundation for the more advanced courses we would eventually take (including the biology class taught by none other than my mother).

I recall one spring day in which we were taken outside and turned loose on a scavenger hunt.

On the surface, the scavenger hunt was fairly typical; split up into groups and find all of the items on your index card, most of which can be found easily in nature. Examples include a dandelion, a stick, or a particular type of rock.

I was always a people-pleasing-competitive-perfectionist type, so I was determined that our group would find everything on the list. My two companions in the group–whom I’ll generically call Chris and Johnny, because they’re nice, generic names and if they bear any resemblance to anyone it’s purely a coincidence, and that’s my disclaimer for all childhood stories unless otherwise noted–ran all over the place with me crossing items off the list and doing a fairly good job of it.

“Johnny! Did you find that feather?”

“Sure did!” Chris responded. “We only have three things left on the list! What’s left?”

“Umm…I’ll just look for the next one,” Johnny said. “Tree bark. That’s next on the list. I think I can handle that!”

“Okay! That leaves two,” said Chris. “I know where to find the sandstone. Sara, I guess the last one is up to you!”

“No problem!” I said. “Let’s look…umm…”


“Hey…guys? I need a little…umm…a lot of help with this one.”

In our haste, we’d ignored Rule No. 1 of “Doing Assignments.”

Rule No. 1? What is that, you say?


Read everything before you do anything.

We had spent quite a bit of time finding the items on our list IN ORDER, but one item at the bottom had an asterisk beside it–a BONUS item–that I finally noticed towards the end of class. The bonus item threatened to squash my pursuit of perfectionism.

A four-leaf clover.

The luck of the Arkansas-ish.
The luck of the Arkansas-ish.

“What? No way. I never find those things,” said Johnny. “I’m sticking to tree bark.”

“But…wouldn’t it be cool if we could find everything on the list?” I asked.

“We don’t have to find that one, though,” said Chris. “It’s a bonus item.”

“Yeah, but if the other groups find one and we don’t, that’s just…NOT COOL!” I said.

“I know what we can do,” said Johnny.

He reached down into a three-leaf clover patch and picked the biggest one from the ground. Then, he split one of the leaves right down the middle.

“There. Four-leaf clover.”

“Are you kidding?” I asked. “That’s the oldest trick in the book. You try to pass that off as an actual four-leaf clover and some leprechaun is gonna hide under your bed and try to smother you in your sleep.”

“What, you mean like the little guy on the cereal box? He’s not scary,” Johnny replied.

“But, if you try to do that, isn’t it bad luck? Think about it. If a four-leaf clover is good luck, trying to fake one has to be bad luck, right?”

“Y’all, stop!” Chris exclaimed, trying to bring us back to earth. “We don’t even need it. We do need the other stuff on the list. Let’s get those first and then try to find a four-leaf clover. Okay?”

“Fine,” I reluctantly agreed.

Did we actually find a four-leaf clover that day? No.

Did we find all of the other items on the list? Yes.

I’ve probably found dozens upon dozens of four-leaf clovers SINCE that day. Sometimes I just look down and see them without even trying. People even bring them to me nowadays. It’s like someone is giggling at my thirteen-year-old self.

But, when I reminisce about that “impossible” scavenger hunt, I laugh a little and take in a nice, deep breath of spring air and think about how lucky I am to be outside enjoying something other than frost underneath my feet.

Ahh, spring.

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