Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Rain! ... The Rain! ... My Favourite Summer Smell!

What a glorious day!  Yesterday was a day of rain ... finally!

Early yesterday morning, before my usual mid-weekend-morning cuppa out on the verandah,


I started to smell the rain.  


It's one of the scents I always associate with summer.







Now I know this is a difficult concept for some.  Many are familiar with the smell of rain when the raindrops start hitting the dry ground.  That earthy "after-rain smell" hits once the rain touches the hot dry earth.

We sure do get that wonderful warm earthy "after-rain smell" in those first few moments when it starts to rain, and it continues to linger after the raindrops have stopped.  However, here in the tropics there is also another, quite different scent that you can sniff in the air as rain approaches ... BEFORE the rain actually reaches your corner of the world.  It signals that rain is a-coming!  There's often no other tell-tale sign ... no thunder, no lightning ... well maybe some overcast grey skies.


Yesterday morning I woke to see dark stormy clouds getting together, attempting to create the impression that rain was not far off.  But so often, this amounts to nothing at all and I'm left wishing and hoping!  So, I didn't get my hopes up until ...



...  I began to sniff that heady, intoxicating scent that convinces you that, after a long, long dry spell, today is THE day!


I consider this pre-rain scent vastly different to that earthy after-rain smell.  Somehow it's sweeter and crisper, fresher, more invigorating and alive.





I'm aware there's something called 'petrichor', a term coined by two Aussie CSIRO researchers to describe the scent of rain as it hits the dry hot earth.  It's caused by a couple of compounds in the soil, one of which is known as geosmin ... "earth-smell".  There's a school of thought that states when a storm threatens, a few molecules of geosmin start to drift away through the air downwind, warning others that rain is on its way.  Apparently our human nose is highly attuned to this particular fragrant soil-borne compound, and we can smell a little of it from a long distance away!!!

Well, maybe it's our humidity levels ... apparently smells travel farther in areas that experience high humidity.  So perhaps it is geosmin carried on the heavily mositure-laden air from a long way off, where the rain has already hit the sizzling earth.

Whatever the cause, that pre-rain smell is wonderfully exciting when there's been no rain for quite some time.  Then the sound of the rain hitting the tin roof almost makes me want to do a little dance ... out in the rain!


Of course, all this will change it if keeps on raining for weeks and weeks and weeks!!!!!  But, for now, both the garden and I appreciated the long awaited day of rain.

I get so excited when the rain arrives after a dry spell, that I even save the experience!  Here's a little video clip taken from the front verandah as the rain fell.

(Please note:  if you want to view the video clip, you will have to scroll right down to the bottom of this blog page and stop the playlist from playing!!)

Savouring the song of summer:
video

31 comments:

  1. I know the smell of rain coming and have often commented to people that it smells like rain. Loved your video especially the sound. It went down into the teens last night and there is a dusting of snow.

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    1. Aah, a kindred spirit! There really is nothing quite like the scent of appraoching rain when it's been long-awaited. Our temps dropped a little over the last two days too, with the arrival of some rain. It was a refreshing change, but nowhere near as refreshing as your temps I would suspect, lol!

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  2. I've heard that your summer is the warmest in about 4 years so I'm sure this moisture is ever so needed in the garden.

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    1. Rosie, in some areas of Australia it has been a record summer with some of the highest temps recorded for quite some time. Up here in my north-eastern corner our summer temps have been pretty normal, so it definitely has not been one of our hottest. It has been a quite dry wet season though as you know, so the rain is most welcome even if it's just for the weekend.

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  3. You've described the scent so well! While it's not common in the Pacific Northwest to have long, dry spells, when it does happen, you can smell the rain coming and it is without a doubt one of my favorite smells. Cheers, Jenni

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    1. Great, another person who knows what I'm talking about. Maybe it's more a phenomenon associated with areas that have long dry spells and high temps. It is such a glorious scent.

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  4. Can't say I am familiar with the pre rain smell. but I certainly love the after rain smell. I really miss that smell, where we live now, most of our rain comes in soft winter showers - no heavy summer downpours - it's just not the same!

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    1. No it's not the same, Garden Girl. It's an experience that's hard to describe.

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  5. I know what you mean by the smell of rain being wonderful. I am sure our so called droughts here in the UK are nothing compared to your dry season but there is definitely a wonderful fresh smell that fill the air

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    1. Nothing quite like it! It's a summer smell here, and something that really lifts our spirits.

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  6. Yeah rain. Love your pics. We are hoping for ours (rain) soon. It's been really dry here, but looks like we may have some relief next week. Crossing my fingers. Matti

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    1. We had showers off and on ever since the downpour on Saturday and it's been wonderful. Going without rain at all for anything up to nine months of the year makes you appreciate the arrival of decent rain. Hope some comes your way soon.

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  7. Yes, that heavenly smell of the approaching rain is something our ancient poets have written about! I know how uplifted you must have felt.

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    1. I know you understand perfectly what I'm talking about, Lotusleaf. Uplifted is definitely a great way to describe how we feel when we hear those raindrops on the roof.

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  8. Woo hoo! Rain!

    I didn't know anything about the chemistry of rain scent. Thanks for that info. All the plants in your garden must be doing a jig. (When you're not watching, of course. They have to maintain some dignity.)

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    1. I think I saw some root-stomping and leaf pumping happening ... love those plant dance moves! I know your garden is jumping for joy too with the downpour you got up there.

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  9. Hi Bernie, I am not so finely attuned to appreciate this quite to the same extent, perhaps its because of the constant bleak drizzle. Enjoy while you cam.

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    1. Thanks Alistair. We've had rain fall almost every day since I wrote this post. It's been absolutely wonderful. No pre-rain smell though, once the rain has arrived.

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  10. When I was in the tropics, I too could smell a rain coming on. The whole atmosphere changes and even the animals let you know too. I liked your video.

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    1. You're so right about the atmosphere changing, Donna. Everything seems to lighten up and become brighter somehow. Then the humidity hits you after the rain has gone!

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  11. It has been hot and sunny here recently. If it rains today, yes, I will definitely smell it and I will be so happy for my plants as well :-)

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    1. We've had quite a bit of rain now, and both the garden and I are looking a whole lot happier!

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  12. Bernie you have a gorgeous view there. Here in the south...most of our entire summer is without rain. I know that feeling when you finally smell the rain and then the drops begin to fall. It rains more in the fall and spring here. Then the summer is hot and very humid. Have a great day!

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  13. Jean, our dry is almost opposite to yours. The end of Autumn through to early Summer is our dry here. Summer is usually wet, hot and humid. The rain has persisted and it's been very welcome.

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  14. Finally I can make comment in your blog! I had some difficulties before.
    Rain is always welcomed!

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    1. Sorry to hear you've been having so much trouble leaving a comment, Malar. I'm glad to see that it finally worked for you. Rain is most certainly very welcome here, especially after the long dry seasons we have. Right now I'm listening to the gentle drumming of the rain on the tin roof again and it's just delightful!

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  15. So your summer has rains, while we are now starting the dry season. It is still our rainy season now, but i can smell the "dry" season, opposite your rain smell. Most of our vegetation starts to get brown. I love that photo of the rain with its big drops. It really takes strong rains to get those. Maybe now we will get the rains several months after today.

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    1. Yes Andrea, Summer is when we get our rain. A rainy season can sometimes last until early Autumn, but most of the rain falls sometime during our Summer months most years. We tend to get quite heavy showers of rain here. I hope you get a decent rainy season there in a few months time.

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  16. Bernie - is that an open rocker on your porch? Mind if I swing by for a visit?! (If only it could be true...) My sound blaster card blew in my PC, so I couldn't hear the rain, but I loved the views in your video! Thanks for sharing your part of the World. If I could 'tele-port', I'd visit your beautiful country in a 'New York Minute'!

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    1. Shyrlene you'd be most welcome! Yes that is a rocking chair out on the verandah and if you ever drop by I'll make sure to keep that spot just for you!

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  17. Thanks for letting us sit on your verandah with you. I feel refreshed.

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