The Smell of Rain

The Ragtag prompt word for today is PETRICHOR
A word that neither I nor the Canadian Oxford Dictionary nor Merriam-Webster online have ever heard of.

However, Merriam-Webster, ever wishing to be helpful, offered me a dozen alternatives — just in case I was mistaken in my spelling somehow. And thus I learned a new word: PETRICOLE

Definition: A variation of PETROCOLE(S): an organism that inhabits or prefers rocky terrain

Something I am not. Keep your rocky hills; like the gopher and the sage grouse, I’m happiest on the prairie. Give me sunny Saskatchewan, where the passing cars all wave at tourists stopping to study their maps — if you read my last post.

Which reminds me of an old joke we prairie folk enjoy telling:
A prairie farmer visiting in British Columbia was asked what he thought of the Rocky Mountains. He replied, “Well, they’re all right, but they sure do get in the way of the view.”

Wiki helped me out with PETRICHOR.
Apparently it’s the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. It involves some complex blending of oils exuded by certain plants during a dry period and some bacteria emitted by wet soil.
Google defines it as “a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.”

Here in SK we may not have as much petrichor as some other places, because we don’t have as much rain, nor the kind of plants that produce the rich smell. We’re usually overjoyed when rain falls after a period of warm dry weather, especially if it fall in July, in time to give the crops a boost.
But there’s a limit, eh? Like another old joke goes:
A fellow from Saskatchewan moved to BC because the climate, but he moved back because of the weather.

Just like my Uncle Fred. During the winter he’d go stay with his son and family at Surrey, BC, on the coastal plain, but after a few weeks he was so disgusted and depressed by all that rain he’d head home to SK again.

Speaking of which, we had a dusting of fine snow in the night and Saskatoon temp was -12 C at 7am (10 F). Predicted high -10; predicted low tonight -18 (0 F). The milder BC climate does have its appeal — if you can handle week-long stretches of clouds and rain.

I’m sure the petrichor in the mountains is fabulous. Our neighbour to the north-west has been cleaning out his dairy barn this week and spreading manure on his fields. We’re right in line, wind-wise, to enjoy that particular aroma.

8 thoughts on “The Smell of Rain

  1. One of the reasons I donate to Wikipedia is that I know I’m not the only one who regularly uses this free-to-us-but-not-to-them service. 🙂

    Petrichor (/ˈpɛtrɪkɔːr/) is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek petra (πέτρα), meaning “stone”, and īchōr (ἰχώρ), the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.

    The term is very well known to any haiku poet who occasionally features nature or natural history in their work.



    a scent of leaves
    in the crow call

    Alan Summers
    Scope Vol 62 No 1 (The magazine of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (Qld) Inc February 2016)

    Coined by researchers I.J. Bear and R.G. Thomas in 1964, from Greek petros (stone) + ichor (the fluid that supposedly flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology).

    “They declared that they have found the earthy scent of petrichor, as if it was secretly drizzling in some deep corner of the city undetected by meteorologists. And when it rained on Monday, they smiled with pride and said: ‘I told you so.’”
    Eye on Sky; The Times of India (New Delhi); Mar 17, 2016.

    And a monoku:

    petrichor this green sunsets in yesterday

    Alan Summers
    Does Fish-God Know (YTBN Press 2012)

    The green sunset was in central Queensland just outside Toowoomba while visiting a sheep station. It was amazing, never seen one like that again, but I mostly live in built up urban areas alas.

    As I did a lot of climbing rocky places it’s possible I met a PETRICOLE but forgot to say hello! 🙂

    warm regards,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for all this info. Life is a learning process; I’ve never come across that word before, but now I have two more in my vocab for future use. 🙂
      I like the way you’ve used it in your haiku, too. I’d probably think of hawks, keen to the scent mice would stir up as they scurry about in the wet underbrush.

      a rousing scent
      of mice in the underbrush
      the food chain rattles

      More pun than poetry. Oh well. 😉


  2. I’m frankly surprised… when I Google it (which I don’t have to because I have before and I love what how it sounds and what it means, I DO get the this from Merriam Webster: Definition: “A pleasant, distinctive smell frequently accompanying the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather in certain regions.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

    It is such a wonderful scent 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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