In June, spent mostly close to home, I considered something I suspect that only we know: the smell of dust in fog.
I do not know the words or word for this—but there’s one that’s almost right and good to have:
Petrichor (/ˈpɛtrɨkɔər/) is the scent of rain on dry earth, or the scent of dust after rain. Constructed from Greek, petros, meaning ‘”stone,” and ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.
(Did you catch that? The veins of the gods, I tell you!)
In middle school I read All Summer in a Day, that wretched story about a place where it pours for years at a time. As with a lot of Bradbury (or perhaps a lot of what I read in middle school) I remember little of the writing or the plot but everything of the anxiety, the clammy palms. It is the seminal work on FOMO.
But this is the West, not Venus. Here it will rain rarely and exclusively when you don’t want it to—in my case, lately, when I want to climb things that cannot be climbed wet. But the consolation that day was to doze belly-down on the warm rock riverside, on granite polished pale pink and glassy smooth, to hear nothing but the loud, mad river, to weigh raindrops ending long falls on my spine. It might have been the strangest thing I’ve ever felt.
High place in a dry year
No chance at all that this should be the break
Not now, in drought, in summer, and in dust
In fading day to wait is a mistake,
Still the warm wind breathes in my ear, “It must!”
Perhaps in light that falls from ruptured clouds
And spills across the mirror of the bay
Or the electric air, or in the sound
Of bowed-back eucalyptus roaring, “stay.”
No sense in that, nor reason to the thought
It will begin the instant that I go
But doubt’s the only faith that I’ve been taught,
So this is what I praise: that I can’t know
If under skies like this I one day might
Be sure of rain as I expect the night.