In normal times, Washington, D.C., throws a giant Shamrock Festival, and Savannah boasts one of the country’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parades, but Birmingham is home to a renowned expert on finding four-leaf clovers.
Frankie Osborn, an Alabama Realtor, maintains a sixty-five-thousand-strong collection of pressed clovers four-leaved and up, including two prized nine-leafers. (As the Irish lore goes, the first three leaves stand for faith, hope, and love; the fourth harbors the luck.)
Springtime’s warm, wet weather and swaths of farmland and state parks make Alabama ideal for clover growth, Osborn says, but the lucky legume (yep, clover is in the same family as beans and peas) is ripe for the plucking all over the South. Osborn’s hunting started as a way to get outside with her kids decades ago—“They grew out of it. I didn’t”—and turned into a lifelong passion for which she named her business, Lucky Realty.
Though Osborn admits some people just seem to have fortune on their side, she does offer some catchall tips: Visit a field on a warm but cloudy day (the leaves curl up in direct sun), and scan for a square among the triangle shapes. Bring along a small bag to collect your trophies, and, once home, press them to dry in a phone book, if you still keep one of those around.
On one point alone, Osborn parts ways with the Irish. “They say only the four-leaf clovers are lucky,” she says, “but I think the more leaves, the more luck.”