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Petrichor

The smell of rain.

How I love the smell of rain! Until several months ago, I didn’t know it had a name: Petrichor.

I still remember the days when I worked outside the home and it was hot during the day. We didn’t feel the heat int he office due to the air conditioning. At the end of the day, exactly when it was time to go home (or to college) petrichor would rise.

Breath in. Breath out. Ah!

Petrichor - BBC Science Library

It is funny that when it is raining we can’t smell it because it’s not really the smell of rain itself but a sign that it’s already raining nearby. Sometimes it didn’t even rain where I was. Sometimes I would get on the bus and meet the rain on the way. But that was the sign that there was rain somewhere close. Smell of wet soil, as Sandy (Brazilian singer) used to sing. Petrichor doesn’t happen always. Something very important must happen before we can smell the rain: a time of drought. If the rain falls on moist land, the smell doesn’t rise.

Here in Ireland we rarely smell petrichor because it rains so often. It’s been a year since I started to write this post. I thought about petrichor when we had a real summer here with over a week of actual heat and sunshine And I mean real hear, not the usual 21°C or 70°F. There were many days of scorching sun and temperatures reaching 30°C or 86°F (which for Ireland is VERY unusual). When this happens, they call it a heat wave. People who can take holidays do well in going out and enjoying it as we did. We went to the beach and camping. I even dared to swim in the ocean. But for those who rely on the rain to stay in business it was tough.

Everything was so dry that the fields got scorched and lots of farmers started to use their winter stock of grain to feed the cattle. Because of the regular amount of rain we have here, nobody has irrigation systems. And even if they had, in such occasions they wouldn’t be allowed to use them because of water rationing. I mean, water rationing in Ireland! It’s really hard to imagine.

After we enjoyed the heat, it came: Petrichor. It was a relief for many. I’m not sure if the Irish smell it as I do. When your nose is exposed to the same aroma for too long it gets used to it. Or, maybe they don’t have enough drought here to even notice that this is what wet soil smells like. Weather forecast also said that the rain would come on that day, but the forecast can’t be trusted with this crazy Irish weather.  Petrichor was the best sign that the rain was a reality again.

I want to be like petrichor. I want to be a sign of a reality that is not yet visible or tangible.

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