Petrichor

There’s nothing quite as serene as the wide, rolling hills of the Palouse here in Idaho, especially in springtime, when everything turns every shade of green you can imagine. But in order to get all that green, we do have to put up with some rain.

Speaking of rain …

You know that gorgeous smell when it first starts raining? It’s like the earth opens right on up to share its sweet, secret scent with us.

How many times have you walked outside after a spring storm, taken a deep breath, and said, “Oh, how I love the fresh smell of rain!”

Did you know there’s a word for that?

Petrichor (pe-tre-kor) n. The pleasant smell that accompanies rain falling on dry ground.

We have a pair of Aussie researchers, I.G. Bear and R.G. Thomas, to thank for this beautiful word. They discovered that our beloved SMELL occurs when of a mixture of oils from vegetation drops onto and is absorbed into rocks during dry periods. When rain comes and hits the rocks, the smell of the oils is released into the air.

I’ve always loved that smell. And I love it even more now that I know it truly is Mother Nature’s perfume!

Our clever Aussies chose the name petrichor as a word meant to denote the “essence” of a rock. It is derived from two Greek words: petros, meaning stone, and ichor, a word the Greeks used for the fluid flowing in the veins of the gods.

That’s pretty cool.

And you know what?

I recently read an article about the mental health benefits of a bacteria found in soil, and how digging in our gardens can, literally, make us feel better and happier in a chemical kind of way, as in a natural anti-depressant.

I have a hunch that the petrichor of a spring rain might have the same effect—I’m sure it does for me and I pretty sure it does for you, too.

Again, it seems like Mother Nature knows exactly what we need and has figured out how to give it to us … if we’ll just listen, I mean smell.

So, the next time you hear someone say how they love the smell of rain, you can tell them about petrichor.

Or you can just take a deep breath and say, “Me, too.”

Leave a comment 4 Comments

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Me three!! This is quite interesting to learn about today! Mother Nature is so remarkable. Nothing is by chance!

  2. Betty Stone says:

    The smell after a fresh spring rain is not unlike fresh mowed grass.

  3. kristin n. says:

    I wish we had more petrichor here in Illinois!

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