Petrichor is the sensation that hit me as I walked outside today. I stood tall and breathed in the air with purpose. Just a few weeks ago I came across this magical word on a piece of mixed media art and googled it. It filled me with joy to find that there is a word in the English language for something that evokes such strong emotion within me. I have been saying it aloud and repeating it in my mind in order to preserve it. Petrichor, petrichor... The revelation of this word is akin to finding out there is a word for the scent of an infant's head or your first love's scent. Petrichor is as much a feeling as a smell, a sixth sense. Smell evokes much deeper memories for me than other senses.
A smell/feeling is like a taste/feeling. When I have a bite of strawberry pie, I am not just tasting. Suddenly I am in a diner with my dad on a warm summer night after he says "let's go get strawberry pie." The memory and the taste cannot be separated. This is why I enjoy the arrival of spring and the foods it brings. They remind me of moments like shucking peas with my grandmother or hunting mushrooms as we camped in the mountains.
The smell of rain is an awakening of my soul. It reminds me to be grateful and be present.
From Henry David Thoreau's Walden: "A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener. So our prospects
brighten on the influx of better thoughts. We should be blessed if we lived in the present
always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like the
grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it; and
did not spend our time in atoning for the neglect of past opportunities, which
we call doing our duty. We loiter in winter while it is already spring. In a
pleasant spring morning all men's sins are forgiven."
That mossy earthy smell in a primeval way reminds me of my connection to the earth, my smallness. It conjures up moments of my childhood, the free days of wandering the woods and discovering its wonders. We take for granted the simple pleasures of stopping to catch crawfish or settling on a patch of moss to read a few chapters of a book. The smell of rain makes me olfactorily richer. It forces me to take pause and for a moment be enchanted.