My walks with Lucy and Annabelle consist more of stopping and starting than walking. We play a sniffing game, especially after a rain or snowstorm. For just one day, I’d love to be able to smell what the dogs smell. To be that alert and aware, so alert they nearly pull my arm out of socket when a scent hits their noses and yanks me in a completely different direction.
What’s in the rain?
Does the water revitalize the scent of the soil, the tracks of the squirrel, the mark of another dog? Or is there more to it?
The same rain has fallen since the beginning of time.
And with the process, a world of smells travels from the ground, into the rivers and lakes and oceans and into the clouds overhead. The smells of yesterday. History. Animals, extinct and present. People, here and long gone. Every smell that ever existed has been soaked into those rain droplets and snowflakes.
That’s what I like to imagine anyway.
The history in the smell of rain is responsible for our less than smooth strolls. It’s not just dog pee.
I love the smell of rain—that distinct earthy aroma that’s difficult to describe yet immediately noticed. A smell that always grabs my attention and makes me pause and inhale long and deep. What do the dogs smell? The explosion of a Civil War musket? Tracks left behind by the Cherokee who settled in this area? The smell of a wolf pack, their ancestors?
Or is it merely the squirrel sitting on the branch above their heads?
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
[tweetthis]I’d like to smell what the dogs smell. #historyintherain[/tweetthis]
Eric Clapton, Let It Rain
“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived. The odors of fruits waft me to my southern home, to my childhood frolics in the peach orchard. Other odors, instantaneous and fleeting, cause my heart to dilate joyously or contract with remembered grief. Even as I think of smells, my nose is full of scents that start awake sweet memories of summers gone and ripening fields far away.”
― Helen Keller
Gary Henderson says
That smell of rain, so hard to describe and yet so easy to recognize, is called “petrichor.”
But that’s probably not what your dogs are smelling. I’d like to be able to smell that for a day, too. Just to “see” what it’s like in their world for a short while.
Talya Tate Boerner says
I’ve never heard that word. Thanks for the info Gary!
Lovely blog. Petrichor, a new word for me too. Notice ‘pet’. 🙂
Dorothy Johnson says
Love your thoughts on rain and, of course, its distinctive smell. Good post.