Friday, May 21, 2010
#1 The Smell of the Air After It Rains
After a long, rainy day of being cooped up inside, playing Parcheesi with your annoying younger sister, you are finally emancipated by the cessation of the first torrential downpour of the season. As soon as you don your galoshes and head into the reemerging sun, a pungent smell hits your schnoz: a crisp, slightly metallic, refreshing scent, which gives you a slightly dizzying head rush.
What is this mysterious smell? According to scientists, it is a complex odor comprised of over 50 individual scents. It is hydro-carbon based, and is a pungent medley of smells emanating from mineral and vegetable sources. According to Matthew Bettelheim, author of Natures’ Laboratory, the word for this smell is Petrichor, and it is “the name for the smell of rain on dry ground, is from oils given off by vegetation, absorbed onto neighboring surfaces, and released into the air after a first rain."
Can a smell so divine have such a prosaic explanation? It is far more romantic to examine the word Petrichor’s etymological roots. It comes from Greek: petri, meaning rock, and ichor, the mythical substance that flowed through the veins of the Olympian gods on high. It is unsurprising that this smell is imbued with an immortal bouquet.
Petrichor: It is the smell of rocks. It is the smell of clean. It is the smell of new beginnings. It is the smell of freedom. It is the smell of godliness. It is the smell of