Monthly Archives: June 2012

‘What a drag it is getting old.’ Health, wellness, Dr. Robert Ebert, and me.

Author’s program note. There was that first sickening moment when I thought I was going to pass out. The pain was sharp, insistent, nauseating, irritating. Just a moment ago, I was fine, none better… then, in an instant, I was a swift moving errant projectile launched from the highly polished flagstone stairs to the highly polished flagstone floor on which I lay for an instant, inelegantly sprawled, irked at my situation, gingerly doing what I had been taught to do… and now recovered from the recesses of memory ready for immediate use.

“My name is Jeffrey,” I said just sotto voce. “I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts,” I said. “I can count to ten,” and did. “I have had a nasty fall. But I have not blacked out.” So far, so good… and thus from immediate fall, the recovery process was already underway, one brassy refrain rising ineluctably to the surface of my jostled intellect: “What a drag it is getting old.”

This line, etched in acid and unwelcome recognition, was the punch line of the Rolling Stones hit “Mother’s Little Helper” released in April,1966 on the album “Aftermath.” Go now to any search engine. If you’re sixty something the last time you considered these lyrics you were in full possession of most every bodily part, element and function. When you said these words then they were an affectation, part of your ardent desire to be world-weary, sophisticated, blase. Now they are nothing more than the God’s honest truth. And don’t we know it.

What came next.

No one hovering around the age of Social Security, or higher, can afford to be cavalier about their health-buffeting, lifestyle changing events. After all, they are a staple, and as we age, the principal source of conversation and social intercourse. Out of our increasingly frail and ill functioning parts and conditions emerge the stories that bore witless our friends, family and even virtually unknown acquaintances. But here’s the great thing: not one of them can say the obvious truth for fear that when they have such (endless) tales to tell, no one will listen to them as they, in turn, bore, too. And so the greatest of the many great conspiracies of aging grows apace, assisted by each of us: we won’t dismiss your stories as mind-deadening dross, if you won’t do that with ours. And it is on this basis I relate my tale.

Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people (including some so young and agile to be paragons of our species) fall down stairs daily. But I am one of only a handful who knows the deal. Thus, with this article comes a chit entitling you to addle my brain with one (but only one) dreary, unending, robustly conceited and mind numbing saga on your accidents, incidents, outrages, pains short termed and chronic, medicaments, physicians, terms, stipulations, coverages (always inadequate and burdened with too high, outrageous deductibles.) Take note… keep this article at hand, for I guarantee you that sooner or later you will yearn and have need for the listening (though never as attentively as you desire) ear which we will demand by force majeure if not given by more diplomatic means.

Meet Dr. Robert Ebert, a man far ahead, who aimed to keep these stories as short and infrequent as possible.

Unless you are a Harvard-trained physician, Dr. Ebert’s name may be unfamiliar to you. But the effects of his great insight into the proper role and function of medicine are everywhere around us and as essential to understanding our stressed-out, pill- riven, unhealthy epoch as the computer or the Internet. Ebert was not merely a brilliant physician but a man who changed the entire lifestyle of all people who know that life without health is a cruel hoax.

He addressed this issue from the acme of established medicine, Harvard Medical School where he was appointed Dean by Harvard President Nathan Pusey in 1965. His assignment was to keep people, all people, healthy not merely to treat the sick more efficaciously. In short, the message delivered by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards was Ebert’s; viz. that you cannot conceive, grow, and maintain a vibrant, healthy society on pills. I don’t know whether Dr. Ebert, Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine at the medical school, was a fan of Jagger and company… but he would have recognized them as kindred (albeit boisterous and outrageous) spirits. The line about politics making strange bedfellows comes immediately to mind.

” ‘Things are different today today,’ I hear ev’ry mother say Cooking fresh food for a husband’s just a drag So she buys an instant cake and she burns her frozen steak And goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper And two help her on her way, get her through her busy day.”

Exactly. It was this “deal with the effects, rather than the problem” mentality that the Rolling Stones pilloried in language both affronting and poetic that Dr. Ebert knew had to be changed for the Great Republic — and all others — to prosper. And it was Nathan Pusey who gave him the chance — and the necessary start-up funds to begin.

I imagine these two great men met in Pusey’s office inside the Yard just a few blocks from where I’m writing you. Ebert would have presented his report; Pusey, a man of big if soft-spoken visions, would have closely listened and questioned, for Ebert was his considered choice to change the world and billions of lives. At the end, there would have been complete understanding, a handshake and a feeling quietly shared by both that here was a project worth doing, worthy of them, of Harvard, of the Great Republic, and so it was…

Thus Harvard Community Health Plan was instituted in 1969, the year I entered Harvard. Without knowing so, without understanding just how revolutionary these men and their cosmic vision, I became as a patient one of the first to experience the force of their insight… I have been a member ever since, a bit of history, glad not only for the help I’ve received but for the opportunity to assist them since patients are members, not just to be treated, but consulted, asked, taught and always considered; an idea of immense consequence…


Such a brilliant idea, so timely, so useful, so endorsed must have gone from triumph to triumph, right?

Absolutely not. Quite the reverse.

Ebert and his colleagues expected 10,000 patients. But only 88 came; I may have been one of them. In short this grand vision had everything going for it… but adherents. Ebert came to know there is no royal road for success. People had to be sought out, counseled, advised and even admonished to take their first tentative steps to an entirely new idea — wellness. Even for such excellent things, excellent marketing is required. Now, after years of such marketing, several amalgamations, reorderings and renamings, Dr. Ebert’s epochal idea — now called Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates — has about 495,000 members. I am still one of them, a kind of senior patient, involved since its very inception.

My ankle, warning, “Doctor, please, some more of these.”

As for me, I’d been advised by Dr. Bonnie Hersh, neurologist at Dr. Ebert’s original Kenmore Square practice, Boston. She told me I had reached the age (65) where many folks have balance issues. I certainly do. And so, had I made holding hand rails an every day, rather than episodic, thing, I should have suffered less in body (no sprained ankle festooned with colorful bruises) and amour propre. But then, I would not have been able to extoll the idea and development of health maintenance organizations, so helpful to so many. “Doctor, please, some more of these”!

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

‘Have I told you lately that I love you?’ Father’s Day 2012.

Author’s program note. All families have lore, that is things which its members believe to be true but may only be a figment of their collective imagination. “Remember the time when….” And everyone does, whether that recollection is real or not, whether the matter took place as recalled or not. Because on such memories the very idea of family, the most important institution of all, is built. This is such a story. I will swear on a stack of Bibles every word is true… although that may not actually be so. That doesn’t matter… it’s family gospel… and therefore precious.

Here is a piece of Lant family lore… I believe it will resonate with you and make you smile.

“Allemande Left”.

My parents loved to square dance, and just because I was born (February 16, 1947) saw absolutely no reason why they should stop doing so… even if they just couldn’t find a baby sitter. “Shirl,” he probably said, “We’ll just take him along. It’ll be just fine. He is 3 after all.”

And when you’re healthy, happy, still on the sunny side of 25, in love, hankering to promenade… why then you do the thing most calculated to cause sensible elders to exclaim, “Donald Marshall Lant, have you got a lick of sense?” And he’d look sheepish, of course, but it was worth it. Because he’d got to swing his purty li’l partner, and no one — absolutely no one — could take that away! And the memory was sweet…

Lulu Belle and Scotty.

Myrtle Eleanor Cooper (1913-1999) and Scott Greene Wiseman (1908-1981) were known professionally as Lulu Belle and Scotty. Cute, perky, wholesome to an almost nauseating degree, they were one of America’s major country music acts of the1930s and 1940s. An astonishing 20 million rabid fans used to tune into the “National Barn Dance” on WLS-AM in Chicagoland to listen and forget the cares of the day.

Thus, when the chance came not just to hear their favorites on the radio but to see them and dance live to the music they loved, why then the mere fact no baby sitter could be found was not going to be an obstacle. And so the three of us piled into a car that worked at all only because of my father’s alchemy and nimble fingers… we were going to square dance… and with Lulu Belle and Scotty no less.

“Roll away with a half sashay.”

My parents were sociable people. They liked people and people liked them. And so when the three of us arrived, there would have been the kind of high energy greetings, quips and cracks which distinguished the boys (and girls) who had won the war. “Don, you dawg. Still driving that hunk of junk?” “Shirley Mae, you look soooo good.” “And who’s that cute little guy you brought? No baby sitter, huh?”

The caller.

Then the most important person of the evening appeared and moved with just a hint of swagger to the mike. It was the caller, and there could have been no square dance without him. And didn’t he know it? Thus, as he took control of the mike, he took control of everyone present… and so everyone paid rapt attention to every word he uttered. He was a grand figure… very often with deep roots in Appalachia where so many of the square dancing traditions had begun.

If so, he was spare of figure, lean, even gaunt. He believed in Great Jehovah, stern God of the Old Testament, the Great Republic, his right to moonshine, what was suitable for a man… and a woman. He could be courtly; he could be forbidding and even cruel… but at a square dance he was all suave condescension. And he knew, with Louis XVIII, that punctuality was the politeness of kings… and so this monarch of the evening started on time, every time. “Evenin’ folks. Are you ready to swing your partner?” The yells were raucous, resounding, ear-splitting, all shouting at the top of young voices that they were indeed ready to obey his every command.

And so the music began, a shot to your expectant brain and toe-tappin’ feet. We can easily imagine it to be one of Lulu Belle and Scotty’s greatest hits, “This Train Is Bound For Glory.”

“This train is bound for glory, this train. This train is bound for glory, this train. This train is bound for glory, Don’t carry nothing but the righteous and the holy, This train is bound for glory, this train.”

(Find it now in any search engine. Its insistent sound is waiting for you now.)

In the hands of such practiced masters as Lulu Belle and Scotty this traditional American gospel song (first recorded in 1925 by Wood’s Blind Jubilee Singers) became a rollicking rendition perfect for square dancing. But first, there was the little matter of what to do with… me! And here is where we see so clearly the difference between 1950 and today…

Sitting at the side of the dance floor would have been elderly ladies (reluctantly) past their capers… (still) hopeful gals (wall flowers)… and boys too fastidious about their possible partners… or folks just plain shy. In short, all my ready-to-soar parents had to do was see who was sitting out this figure, and the baby sitting problem was solved.

I helped them out, so family lore has it, because I had (God’s honest truth) a smile to die for and party manners which have not deserted me to this day; no whimpering like certain friends and relations I could name. I was glad to go, glad to enjoy, glad to see them so happy… and if I could brighten the lives of others not quite as happy, why so much the better. It was what one did at a party, and I aim to please.

Blithe, unworried, pleased to follow the strict and intricate commands of the caller, my parents danced on whilst I, having partied enough for one evening, slept the sleep of the just, contented.

And so a handful of happy hours passed until Lulu Belle and Scotty played their signature song. It was a ballad, not a square dance and the caller, with whatever degree of reluctance, gave way to the waltz that demanded two people locked in an embrace, eyes only for each other. “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You”, composed by Scott Wiseman, “Scotty”, and released in 1945. (Find it now in any search engine.)

“Have I told you lately that I Iove you Could I tell you once again somehow Have I told you, with all my heart and soul…?”

Well, Dad, I’m tellin’ you now.

Thanks for always taking me with you.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today.

Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer Check out Cash Siphon ->

‘Open a new window.’ The U.S. State Department’s May 24, 2012 reporton global human rights for 2011, Chinese General Secretary and President Zemin,and me.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. It is 4:58 a.m. Eastern time, and I ought to be in bed, not least because last evening I took a nasty fall and sprained my ankle. But I cannot lay about, simply cannot, with all the ingredients for an important story, perhaps a world-changing story at hand. My ankle is puffy but of no account, my brain and fingers raring to go.

Here, like a recipe, are the features:

Item: A copy of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011.”

Item: A clip of film from the 1939 tear-jerker “The Little Princess” starring that pint-sized money machine Shirley Temple.

Item: The then General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and President Jiang Zemin in my front yard, just inches away from me, just the two of us (and a chauffeur).

Item: Angela Lansbury’s always stirring song “Open a New Window” from the 1966 Broadway production of “Mame”.

And more than a dollop of cock-eyed optimism, for after all I am a Midwestern boy.

Are you ready for this ride?

Then go to any search engine and find Lansbury’s soaring achievement and play it now. Sing loud and proud… make your good wishes for a better world than the one outlined in the document before me be heard around the globe, especially in Beijing which needs to open that new window more than anyone…

“Travel a new highway/That’s never been tried before.”

Let me start this with a paean to America and a recommendation. Goodness knows we have our problems in these United States. Let’s be honest. Simply by perusing any newspaper on any given day, you’ll find the full panoply of horrors. However, when you read even a fraction of Secretary of State Hilliary Rodham Clinton’s latest report on global human rights violations (easily accessible on line), you cannot but perk up and say, “There but for the grace of God…”

Thus, Recommendation #1. I suggest the Secretary of Education (no slouch at producing long, windy, indigestible tomes), get this into the hands of every school board, superintendent, principal, teacher, student and parent. Let’s cut the America bashing and look at the record. All this would take is the will, a link, and an email suggesting this. Not difficult at all.

The shocking 2011 Chinese human rights violations.

In opening her report to Congress Clinton wrote this, “The world changed immeasurably over the course of 2011.” And mostly for the bad. Indeed, there is such a plethora of woe, you may be forgiven for wanting to pull the covers over your head and turning on the Disney Channel. This stern, even somber document relates in explicit detail just how 194 countries managed to oppress their own citizens. Now consider this: there are just 196 countries. Thus in plain language, where there are humans, there are human rights violations, even in places like the tiny principality of Andorra which was cited for failing to effectively protect the right of workers to bargain collectively.

This is bad but almost derisory when compared to the chronic, systematic rights violations daily perpetrated by the usual suspects, Iran, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, Belarus… and China. Their records are appalling, distressing, dismaying, the stuff of nightmares and a shock that seems ironically to diminish as the flagrant facts inexorably increase, no more so than with China. We know… but we do not want to acknowledge, not least because the health of our fragile economy now depends on China expanding its open door policy. Laissez les bons temps rouler… never mind garden-variety outrages like these… They are serious, of course, but not important. Thus page after page of unmitigated detail taken randomly from this deeply disturbing report…

How in 2011, there was continuing “deterioration in key aspects of the country’s human rights situation.” How this was manifested in repressions and coercions, particularly against enumerated organizations and individuals involved in rights advocacy and public interest issues. How political activists and public interest lawyers were silenced. How authorities resorted to extralegal measures including enforced disappearances, “soft detention”, strict house arrest, including house arrest of family members.

And so it goes, word by alarming word, line by disheartening line, page by page of proven indignities, not merely conjecture, but actual, certain, confirmed. Those desiring to inform the world and shine the full light of day on such malice have done their laudable work well and responsibly, and they must continue to do so, at the risk of profound dismay in the face of so much chagrin.

Jiang Zemin and me, an incident that haunts me.

On the morning of November 1, 1997, I went for my morning walk as usual. But this was to be no ordinary day. I stepped out of my residence and crossed the ancient narrow lane to the Common near at hand, my task to walk and think. But then in this city of Harvard, where there is nothing more usual than the unusual, something different occurred. It was a limousine with diplomatic trappings, a small flag… the flag of China… on the hood. The car was running slowly along the sidewalk… and then it stopped, blocking the path.

It was Jiang Zemin, Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party (1989-2002), President of China (1993-2003).

I knew him at once and I deduced the situation immediately, for I had seen the mass of protestors marching through Harvard Square en route to Memorial Hall where this man, more powerful than any emperor, the butcher of Tiananmen Square, the very incarnation of what was once called the Red Menace, was to give an address entitled “Enhanced Mutual Understanding and Build Stronger Ties of Friendship and Cooperation.”

He was idling in his official car whilst the police cleared his path through the disruptive throng just blocks away. And so the chauffeur waited… Zemin and I, exemplars of such very different systems, face to face, no police, no escort, just us.

I did what you would have done. I smiled and waved… so did he. What next? I wanted a scene like the one from “The Little Princess”, where, at film’s end, Temple’s character throws herself at the feet of Queen Victoria and pleads successfully for the great sovereign’s help. That classic scene brought refreshing tears to millions. And no wonder, for we all want to believe that a chance encounter with greatness could change history. It is one of mankind’s enduring beliefs.

“The road not taken.”

I should have knocked on the window or beckoned him out, inviting him home, just a few steps away. I should have told him our peoples must be friends, problem-solvers, not wary, cautious, and suspicious. But of course I did none of this… thus as I read Secretary Clinton’s report of near unremitting gloom, I rebuked myself… and will always wonder “what if?” What would have happened if I’d trod the road not taken and so helped open the new window humanity so desperately needs? I’d give anything to relive that moment to find out.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today.

Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer Check out Info Cash ->

‘We ARE most amused.’ 43,000 pages of Queen Victoria’s journals posted online… as we dig into royal reality.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. In 1979 my first book “Insubstantial Pageant: Ceremony & Confusion at Queen Victoria’s Court” was published by Hamish Hamilton in London and Taplinger in New York. It was treated as front page news in England, because it was based on hitherto unknown and unreported papers, including unpublished documents made available to me by Her Gracious Majesty The Queen.

Aside from their undeniably important content, something else was significant about this matter; the fact that it was the research of an American, indeed the very first Yank ever admitted to the treasure trove that resides in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle. In fact, so far as I know, I remain all these many years later the only American still. And so I am uniquely qualified to write this story.

“Soldiers of the Queen”.

As every monarch has known, a royal story goes better with a strong, rousing tune, and this one is no exception. Thus I have selected one of the best marches of the Empire on which the sun never set, “Soldiers of the Queen.” It was written and composed by Leslie Stuart in the1890s for the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal. Its lyrics were not merely catchy, they were very gospel to the people who thrilled to their imperial achievement.

“It’s the soldiers of the Queen, my lads Who’ve been, my lads, who’ve seen, my lads In the fight for England’s glory lads When we’ve had to show them what we mean.”

Go now to any search engine and find this pip of a tune which you’ll probably recall from Shirley Temple’s 1939 film “The Little Princess.” It is sure to get your blood stirring if you’ve got even a drop of the old English about you.

Enter by the tradesmen’s door.

To gain access to the sovereign’s private papers, you must apply to the Royal Librarian, in my day Sir Robin Mackworth-Young. The key to entry was being a “recognized scholar.” This meant being a known author or having secured the Ph.D. from a known university. In my case it necessitated being patient until I took my Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1975. As soon as I had it in hand, I left for England, for Windsor, for the papers I needed to complete my book.

Perhaps only a scholar given such access can know and understand the thrill, the giddy excitement as you travel to such riches. But reality entered the picture at once. I was told to go to the tradesmen’s entry where a footman in powdered hair handed me a quill pen and told me to sign in. Me? Tradesmen’s entry? The sage of Cambridge?

More sobering reality.

The footman then picked up a candelabrum and a giant key. “This way,” he said (“doctor” and “sir” omitted), as if I were the butcher’s boy; leading me the few steps to the door at the base of the Round Tower. He unlocked the massive door and told me to ascend the stairs to the top where another heavy door would be unlocked.The concrete stairs were steep; it was cold. There was no light. I was a prisoner in the Tower, locked in at their pleasure, wondering how to get out. Now I was thrilled no longer; I was in a story that could easily be written by Edgar Allan Poe or M.R. James, both masters of the macabre.

“We’ve been expecting you.”

Then as I reached the top, the door swung open, there was light, warmth and a greeting from Miss Jane Langton. She showed me my room, told me which papers they had laid out and explained the rules, viz that I must take tea with the staff daily and leave for luncheon. I resented both rules; I had come a long way to gather what I needed… and luncheon was immaterial. Still I was logged out then, too, to log in again in 60 minutes sharp.

Her Majesty The Scribbler.

Victoria became sovereign by birth, merit being no part of the matter. But she became a writer by hard work, assiduous effort, and the constant perfecting of her craft. I liked that about her from the start, for she knew the burden of the blank page… and she knew the necessity to write regularly, frequently, and follow the writer’s first rule: to write about what she knew. She did, publishing two best-selling books, writing thousands of letters (only a fraction in print) and creating the most important royal journal ever written.

Thus each day I was allowed in the Round Tower, I was in direct, personal converse with the majesty that reigned over a preponderance of the known world. At first, of course, there were her quirks and abysmal handwriting to learn. This wasn’t easy for Queen Victoria was famous for her illegible hand and abbreviations… the text messaging of her day. However, in due course I mastered both to the extent that the staff would bring me papers they were working on and asked for my opinion. Thus, I built bridges with people not keen on my American heritage and became a known master of royal cryptograms, to the extent the staff would often compliment my proven skills… and in truth I earned their regard, though there were frustrating times when the Queen’s execrable handwriting defeated us all.

Now available to the world at

Now thanks to the generosity of Queen Elizabeth II you need not demonstrate that you are a “recognized scholar” to gain access. No interview required with a pompous minor member of the royal staff; no forced tea or luncheon… just you and the great Queen, from the comfort of your home. All this deserves the highest praise and gratitude and as the complete collection is indexed (a gigantic task indeed), your praise should swell, too.

But now it is time to dip into Her Majesty’s actual words, where you find from the very first a woman of honesty, directness, of strong sentiments, but no pretence at all. See for yourself…

On her birthday, May 24, 1837. “Today is my eighteenth birthday! How old! and yet how far I am from being what I should be. I shall from this day take the firm resolution to study with renewed assiduity, to keep my attention always well fixed on whatever I am about, and to strive to become every day less trifling and more fit for what, if Heaven wills it, I’m some day to be.”

On proposing to her adored Prince Albert, (October 15, 1839). “My mind is quite made up, and I told Albert this morning of it. The warm affection he showed me on learning this gave me great pleasure. He seems perfection, and I think that I have the prospect of very great happiness before me. I love him more than I can say…”

And this effusion: “I really cannot say how proud I feel to be the Queen of such a nation.” She entered it into her journal the evening of her coronation, June 28, 1838… but she felt this way every day of her life. I felt this commitment strongly as I worked busily in the Round Tower so many years ago! Now this feeling can be yours wherever you are as you dig in to her most private thoughts. God save the Queen… and every word she ever wrote.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today.

Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer Check out Commission Commando ->

Overlooking the clover no longer. Resilient, plucky, useful…andcute. What’s not to like?

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. For all that it’s just 4:17 a.m. (I looked) I bounded out of bed.You see, I had a particular purpose this day, to make amends to a friend, someone I’d taken for granted, the ultimate insult in any relationship. But this friend, in addition to a host of sterling qualities you’ll learn about here, is also of a forgiving nature, able to pardon the millions who have seen it… but not perceived it. And so, with long overdue fence mending to do, I didn’t linger in my cool sheets but let the bird song, welcome outside my window, accompany the tune in my head, the tune I want to share with you right now… for it’s a bona fide mood enhancement for sure: “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover”.

This is the song your grandmother sang as she dandled you on her knee. It made you smile… it made her smile. It was bright! Cheerful! uplifting… and easy to sing… with zesty lyrics worth a million grins!

It was written in 1927 by Mort Dixon with Harry M. Woods and was sung by a host of recording artists great and aspiring including Al Jolson, Arthur Godfrey, Nick Lucas, even Bugs Bunny (in the 1952 cartoon “Operation Rabbit.”). Art Mooney was the person who probably did the most to popularize it. Personally, I prefer the original version by Jean Goldkette (1927). It’s got that authentic 1920s big band sound that I like so much; the sound that makes you want to get up, dance your most famous moves and make a complete fool of yourself, putting a smile in every word you say for days to come. Go find it now in any search engine and sing out. You’re about to experience the undeniable power of clover… and with their luck pulling for you you’ll never overlook them again.

About Clover (Trifolium).

Clover (Trifolium) or trefoil is a genus of about 300 species of plants in the leguminous pea family Fabaceae. It is, as its encyclopedia entry felicitously states, of a “cosmopolitan distribution.” That is to say, you can find it in all temperate climates. Now think for a minute what that means and what it says about this hardy, chipper plant which one fine day set out to carpet the world and did so… right up to and including the clover you can see this very minute in your own front yard. This is, therefore, not a plant to be under estimated, and wise folk never do; plucking a sprig on their way to work, to wear the whole day long, as a request for this beneficent plant to give what it has to spare — grit and tenacity, to be inhaled with its subtle scent.

On the domestic uses and beauty of clover.

One day long ago I visited a Persian aristocrat at his opulent home in Teheran in the waning days of the last shah. I found him in his lavish garden where he had prominently posted these words, “One is nearest God in a garden.” The very first thing he showed me was a pot of clover, plants which because of the hot climate needed careful care. He gave it himself though he had a squad of gardeners to attend. Clover entranced him, as it entrances all sensitive people.

To be honest, I did not always feel that way about clover. When I was a teen-ager during the hot, humid, sultry Illinois days I cringed when my father or grandfather asked me to mow the lawn. You see, these were the days before power mowers and thus it was very difficult to mow the clover so close to the ground.

Worse, because clover retains water after just a few pushes the blades were clogged, the entire operation at an end until they were cleaned, the moist, fragrant clover removed… a task to be done over and over again under the sweltering sun, still oppressive in my memory. And while Grammie never forgot to bring something cool against the heat, her eagle eye also never failed to spot the place you missed, a place where there was more clover still. Thus, push by push, we came to an understanding, clover and I. They would proliferate. I would keep their riotous potency under control. But there was never any doubt about whose power was the greater or whose contribution more important, to the nation or the lawn.

Clover and your lawn.

Ever since there have been lawns, grass, and clover there has been a raging debate amongst gardeners about which course of action is best, what should be done, at what time and how. It is now time for me to add my two-cents. I have utterly no hope or expectation that this will settle the matter…

The case for adding clover to the lawn seems compelling. It adds greenness to the lawn, staying green because of its retained moisture during even sustained dry spells. Clover in the lawn also cuts the work and cost of watering and fertilizing. Clover also enables its habitat to support more wildlife, both plant and animal. For instance, clover nectar keeps the bees around giving them the time and inclination to pollinate fruit trees and vegetables. It also attracts such good things as parasitic wasps, aphids, scales and whiteflies. Urban dwellers like me might be dubious about such “benefits” but true gardeners rejoice and cultivate clover accordingly. The only “drawback” is this: if you walk through clover barefoot, you may well be stung by a bee. As a true son of the soil, I say this: if you’re walking barefoot through the clover, you deserve what you get, tender foot take note! Clover in the service of the world.

The cattle which feed upon the endless salad around them need no such warning. They are intent instead upon their feed which is delicious and which we in turn feed upon. And so clover nourishes the beasts which nourish us.This is where the saying “To be in clover” originates; it refers to the cattle fattening thereon and the bounty to us. Do not, however, let them over feed upon this richness, for then the cattle may sicken and die, proving again that too much of any good thing can be lethal.

Three poets and clover.

To finish this article, I descended to the Cambridge Common where the clover this year is thick and fragrant. I wanted to see what three great poets saw before they wrote their tributes to clover, Walt Whitman (1819-1892), Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), and Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888).

Whitman in “There Was a Child Went Forth” wrote about how children become what they see, urging us to show them the important things in life, including “grass, and white and red morning glories and white and red clover, and the song of the phebe-bird.” He was sensitive to them all, and they all loved this man so made for such unstinting affection.

Dickinson, in “Purple Clover” wrote

“There is a flower that bees prefer, And butterflies desire.”

Her first lines were limpid, her later lines characteristically impenetrable to all, perhaps even herself. But she loved the purple clover, that much is indisputable, and so we honor — even if we do not understand — her.


This poet of Concord, Massachusetts, just up the road a piece from where I write, sketched the idyllic scene where clover finds its urgent destiny, providing comfort to our human kind. In “Clover-Blossom” she wrote

“In a quiet, pleasant meadow/ Beneath a summer sky Where green old trees their branches waved/And wind went singing by”.

There, there in that place we all wish to rest a while, touched by sun, caressed by summer’s breeze, made welcome and comfortable by clover, the clover we know better now and which we shall never overlook again. For as Whitman wrote,

“These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.”

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer