Sunday, June 28, 2009

Petrichor...



Petrichor...I would be surprised if anyone was familiar with this word. Paul, my good friend from South Dakota, sends me the "Word of the Day" every day and I got this one a few years ago. According to Wikipedia:

Petrichor (pronounced /ˈpɛtrɨkər/ ; from Greek petros "stone" + ichor"the fluid that is supposed to flow in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology") is the name of the scent of rain on dry earth.

The term was coined in 1964 by two Australian researchers, Bear and Thomas, for an article in the journal Nature. In the article, the authors describe how the smell derives from an oil exuded by certain plants during dry periods, whereupon it is adsorbed by clay-based soils and rocks. During rain, the oil is released into the air along with another compound, geosmin, producing the distinctive scent. In a follow-up paper, Bear and Thomas (1965) showed that the oil retards seed germination and early plant growth.

The scent is generally regarded as pleasant and refreshing, and is one of the most frequently cited "favorite smells". In desert regions, the smell is especially strong during the first rain after a long dry spell. The oil yielding the scent can be collected from rocks and concentrated to produce perfume; however, it has yet to be synthesized, perhaps due to its complexity. It is composed of more than fifty distinct chemical substances.

In simple terms, "petrichor" is that wonderful smell that comes when it rains...everyone knows it...and laundry detergent companies have tried to duplicate it. I tried looking it up in the dictionary today...it's not there. So it's not a well-known word.

Especially in Texas. I am SOOOO missing rain. It's either feast or famine here. We don't get rain for many months...then we'll get a deluge for a couple days...then another six to nine months of drought. I have spent most of my life in the midwest where we would have regular thunderstorms. Not too many...not too few. Just the right amount.

We haven't had a good rain in Texas for...well...it seems like forever...and I miss it. The sound of the raindrops on the roof...and that wonderful aroma of petrichor.

I guess I'll have to be satisfied with this video...but between you and me, it just doesn't cut it...cuz there ain't no petrichor included with the video. :-(

8 comments:

Life's a Beach! said...

Wow! I with you there! We're waiting for the monsoon to start. Supposedly anyday now. But even when some areas around here get drenching rains, sometimes we just get the haboob -- the mammoth dirt storm.

Jamqueen said...

The rain is all up here! We just had 2 days without rain--the most we've had in a month! I know we'll be happy we had it at some point, but everyone is getting crabby--haven't been able to do much outside at all & sceduled events have been rained out left & right!

Paul said...

Nice!!! In our mountain climate the petrichor experience happens more frequently, and I love it....especially when I'm riding a motorcycle. what's next? Sirrus?

Vee said...

Good word, Deb. I subscribe to wordsmith (I should post a link but I've only today gotten back online afer a week and am too lazy). Glad to catch up with your blog and learn the house sale is on track. Best of luck to you! As for the furniture, I love red. We painted our living room a SW red two years ago, and we're not tired of it yet.

Isla Deb said...

Beck - I would give my right arm for a monsoon! I'm SOOOO tired of hot, humid and no clouds!

Ann - And everyone is getting crabby down here because of the heat and no rain! Wish we could even this whole climate thing out!

Paul - HaHa! I was actually thinking about talking about sirrus, but decided to save that for another post. Stay tuned.

Vee - Thanks for the good luck wishes. I love reds myself and have had a few red rooms in my lifetime...but never a red couch. The jury's still out on that one. Will keep you posted. Btw, I miss your blog posts!

gil garcia said...

Boy, you do enjoy writing!

Isla Deb said...

Gil - Ha! I guess it's that journalist in me.

Vee said...

Deb, I've had technical difficulties with my blog posts, but I finally put up a new one yesterday. I ended up changing the theme a few times, so some of my older posts may be strange. I'm still not thrilled with the look and hope to one day get into CSS and improve it. I also updated my book blog about a week ago. On that note, I look forward to hearing about your latest adventures.