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The Smell of Rain
May 27, 2014

Is it possible?

Is spring/summer finally here to stay?

Everything has been planted (except for the few plants out there that call my name as I walk by).

A true gardener is never done planting.

Or so it seems.

Still, none of the spring flowers are blooming yet.

No columbine (close), no lupine, nothing.

However, the weeping crab tree was nice this past week, you should've seen it.

About three weeks ago, I spotted an Osprey perched on a snag (dead tree).

that same day I watched it fly over the pond looking for food.

Two weeks ago, I was on my way to pick up Yolanda and happened to see one land on a cell tower.

Poor quality pictures, taken long distance, but you can see a nest in one picture with her sitting and papa perched near by.

Another picture shows him spreading his wings, and the last picture shows him on a lone perch.

Suburban Osprey.

Less than one mile from where I live.

The only thing that would make this more exiting would be if it was a pair of Bald eagles.

I drive by most days just to have a look see.

Graduation season is now under way with the first open house this past Sunday

Many more to follow for the next three or four weeks.

It's a good thing I have that money tree out back :-)

Last week was one busy week.

Appointments for Yolanda, even the gynecologist (yes I am that kind of dad).

Anything to lighten the load for Karen who is dealing with an almost 90 year old mother.

Getting things done on the van.

All the yard work, and then some.

I am pooped.

But, I had a stress free, and lazy holiday weekend.

I did visit my parents grave, and hopefully showed honor to our Heroes.

One night early last week, I was on my walk and it started to lightly rain.

There was that smell we all know.

The smell of rain.

I wrote on this a few years ago, but why not again.

It doesn't have much to do with wildlife or gardening.

It does take away a bit of the romance, however.

Why does rain smell?


The Smell of Rain:

Petrichor, pronounced (PET-ri-kuhr).

That's the word that describes the smell of rain on dry earth.

No, it's not the rain itself that smells.

The term derives from the Greek words 'petra', meaning "stone" and 'ichor', which is the fluid that flows in the veins of Greek gods.

The word was coined in 1964 by Australian researchers who found that the smell was created by an oil that is released by certain plants during dry periods.

When it rains that oil is released into the air, giving us that wonderful smell and reminder of rain.

The second reaction that creates petrichor occurs when chemicals produced by soil-dwelling bacteria known as actinomycetes are released.

These aromatic compounds combine to create the pleasant scent when rain hits the ground.

Once the rains arrive, other odors come with them.

Falling water disturbs and displaces odoriferous molecules on surfaces, particularly on dry ones, and carry them into the air.

If you happen to be near vegetation, these molecules may come from plants and trees.

For city dwellers, these odorants rise up from concrete and asphalt.

Some are fragrant, others have a foul smell.


Another scent associated with rain.

During a thunderstorm, lightning can split oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere, they in turn can recombine into nitric oxide.

This substance interacts with other chemicals in the atmosphere to form ozone, which has a sharp smell faintly reminiscent of chlorine.

Sometimes, before the rain begins, one of the first odors you may notice as winds pick up and clouds roll in is a sweet, pungent zing in your nostrils.

When someone says they can smell rain coming, it may be that wind from an approaching storm has carried the released spores and bacteria miles ahead of the rain and coming storms.

Damp Earth:

After a storm has moved through, what's often left is an earthy, or musty whiff of wetness.

This is the aroma of 'geosmin', is produced by a metabolic by-product of bacteria or blue-green algae and a number of microorganisms amongst which the mycelial (vegetative) part of fungus and soil bacteria.

Geosmin is exactly that distinct smell that soil gives off when disturbed or just rained upon and its human detection threshold is mild, allowing almost all to savor it.

Geosmin can also be a comforting call to gardeners eager to dig in the dirt.

Like a magical sign, our noses say it is now a good time to go out and play.

Wouldn't you know it.

Another romantic idea shot down by science.

That's okay, you and I can enjoy the smells.

It is just fine to say we smell rain coming, or smell that rain.

It's your story, after all.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"Principle -- particularly moral principle -- can never be a weathervane, spinning around this way and that with the shifting winds of expediency. Moral principle is a compass forever fixed and forever true."

Edward R. Lyman

How do we make proper moral choices, and follow these principles?

The Bible does provide biblical guidelines on a vast array of issues.

Follow this and all else will fall in line for you.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Jesus Christ, Mark 12:30-31

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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