Saturday, November 3, 2007

the smell of rain

From August 2002 to September 2003, just after we were married, the Sergeant and I lived in Bakersfield, California. Desert and mountains and bad air. (In 2007, Bakersfield ranked 2nd worst for smog and 3rd worst for particle pollution (whatever that means) in the United States, according to the American Lung Association.) I used to joke that you know the pollution is bad when you can see the air.

We hadn't lived there long when I went on a weekend retreat. One of the "get to know you" games was telling the group, among other things, our favorite smell. The entire group was rather confused when it was my turn and I said, "My favorite smell is rain."

"Rain has a smell?" they asked.

Of course it does! And they were mystified when I went on to say that a thunderstorm can smell even better.

"So...rain has a smell, and thunderstorms have a different smell?"

The problem is, I couldn't describe what I meant. How do you explain the smell of rain, or lightning, to a group of people who only have rain two or three times a year? And even then they can't smell the rain because the air is so polluted. I tried, but I think I only succeeded in convincing them that I was a bit crazy.

It was raining when the Little Mister and I drove onto post to check the mailbox this morning. Even though it was chilly I drove with my window down a bit because it smelled so wonderful. Fresh. Clean. With just a touch of decay (which sounds kind of awful until you realize it's autumn and the smell was leaves decaying). If I had been alone I would have stood out in the rain until I was too wet and cold to stand it anymore. I felt energized.

So the smell of rain is my favorite smell. What's yours?


  1. Rain does have a smell - I agree! And I love it as well. I think my favorite smell would be honeysuckle in the Spring - reminds me of my grandfather's farm. Good post - have a great weekend.

  2. I know the smell of rain! It smell fresh and clean :)

    But my FAVOURITE smell is the smell of baked bread. Mmmm...carbs here I come!


  3. My favorite smell, the scent of liliacs on the wind. When you have your window open in the Spring and the fresh scent of spring flowers in the air.

    Rain does have a scene, it's one of my favorites.

  4. night blooming jasmine, although snow has a smell too and I love it.

  5. One of my favorite smells is the salt air at the beach. The brine that some people can't stand, I love. The other smell is that cold crisp smell of freezing air. It reminds me of my grandmother's house at Christmas.....

  6. Yes, rain does have a smell and yes the smell of a thubderstorm is different, and you can smell when it is going to snow too.

    I grew up in Central California and I have to say that I am surprised by those people. To my way of thinking, when something happens less often you should notice the differences even more.

    Some people are not at all in tune with their environment. It's kind of sad, because you miss so many beautiful things if you aren't paying attention.

    I love the smell of the garden in the summertime. The way the tomato plants smell when you brush by them and the basil as the sun heats it.

  7. I LOVE the smell of rain myself--it's glorious.

    I also love the smell of fresh bread, brewed coffee, the sea, lavender, basil...

  8. i, too, love the smell of rain and I, too, am glad to be out of the polluted mess of Bakersfield.

  9. I love the smell of rain, too. Also the smell of snow on a cold morning after a snowfall. Or just a dry crisp fall morning, too.

    It's hard for me to say what is my favorite smell. I have many favorites. Foods, especially baked goods. Spices. Old books. Coffee. Unsmoked cigarettes. (They smell a bit like raisins). Oranges, just as they are being peeled. A freshly mowed lawn.

  10. The smell of Spring - when you can first begin to smell the dirt and you have the anticipation of the flowers to come ....

  11. rain totally has a smell.

    I do love lilacs.

    I also love the baby's head.