Driving my daughter to school, she asked “did you know there’s a word for the smell of rain?” Well, no. But I was intrigued. Described as an earthy fragrance after a rainfall, petrichor was coined by two Australian researchers to define that indefinable aroma created by rainfall on dry summer ground.
Where I live in Northern California, the ground is not often dry and visitors to our home describe a pleasant musty aroma surrounding it, perhaps created by the eucalyptus trees ringing our valley, which is intensified when rain sweeps through. After a night of cozy raindrops beating on our roof, opening the door to a world washed clean with a familiar fragrance filling the air is lung-filling and spirit-lifting.
I’ve been playing with the idea of creating images that stimulate more than just one of our senses, more than just what the eye sees. Along the lines of the philosophical thought “if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound”, I wanted to see if photos – taken after a night of rain – could perhaps evoke the smell of rain.
Silly? Maybe. Of course you can’t smell my photos, although I am reminded of a ride in Disneyland where the smells of what you are seeing on the screen are piped into the room along with a breeze creating a sense of movement. It simulates reality, even though you are in a large theater with many other people.
These photos smell like rain to me. And I’ll wager if you close your eyes for just a moment you can bring back the scent of what rain smells like where you live.