The Story of a Photograph
How a meadow flower gave away creative secret
"Look at this photo, Sergey. It's amazing, isn't it?" Nikolai Pavlovich fell silent and stood still. Never before had Sergey, a graduate student, heard his teacher Trofimov, who was a cardiologist and full professor, talk so excitedly.

The photograph exuded warmth. Depicted on it was a common rural landscape in the summertime – the village fence, the motley grass, the distant lake, the wooden chapel on a hill, the running children... What amazed the viewers was the space and the perspective, and the warm frontal light it seemed to radiate.

"The dynamics of stillness. The serenity of landscape juxtaposed with boisterous life represented by the running children," the graduate student was willing to keep the conversation going.

The photo really touched Sergey, but in his heart he was still angry at the professor for having chosen, on that hot July day, to bring him to a photo exhibition dedicated to the Russian North in the middle of Moscow, not to a tucked-away Italian restaurant.

"I don't think you recognize the village in this photo, do you?" Trofimov asked. "Vershinino in Kenozero area. My home village," he said.

"Oh, really?" the graduate student gasped. "The Vershinino you've been telling me so much about?"

"Yes. This chapel on the hill is St. Nicholas Chapel, an amazing creation of human hands. It's as cozy and gracious inside as it is outside. As a kid, I used to run up this hill to have a look at it, just like these children in the picture."

"And your grandmother, her name was Marya. She knew dozens of fairy tales. She baked delicious pies, knew herbs and was a healer... Sometimes I envy you your rural childhood, Nikolai Pavlovich," Sergey said. "Look at these children in the photo running somewhere. Not a care in this world..."

Nikolai Pavlovich gave him a sly look and shook his head. "The photographer who took this picture seems to be a real master of his trade. In fact, these children are running for shelter, my friend. They are running back to the village because there's a thunderstorm brewing."

Sergey decided the professor was pooling his leg. "What makes you think they're running from the rain?" he asked. "Have a closer look, my friend. Look for the prompts from nature," replied the professor.

... Sergey could not get that conversation out of his head. He wanted to find the answer. Back home, he opened his laptop and found the photographer who took that picture on the social networks. He wrote him a long letter, asking what the weather was like on that day and if the children were running for shelter. He didn't mention professor Trofimov.

The reply reached him the following morning.

"I have no idea how you guessed, but true: the children were running from the rain. It began to pour in just about ten minutes...," wrote the photographer.

Sergey was eager to know how the professor could tell it was going to rain. "I've been racking my brain," he said to him on the phone.

"The clover, my dear."

"What do you mean?"

"You see, the clover, this ubiquitous plant, it's a curious species. There are two hundred species of it growing all over the world, and six can be found in Kenozero area. The average clover is pink, the meadow clover is red, the hybrid clover is pinkish. There is white clover, golden-yellow clover, and I also remember seeing chestnut clover of a shiny hue... Apart from being a honey plant, fodder and herb, clover is a weather barometer, my friend."

"Are you kidding?" Sergey chuckled.

"I'm not. Every village kid knows the fact. If you see a clover tilt its head to the ground, as if to protect itself with its leaves, it's a sign of the approaching rain. That's how I guessed it was going to rain. As simple as ABC."