Petrichor; derived from Greek petra, “stone” & īchōr, “divine fluid”: that uniquely fresh, rich aroma of rain falling upon parched earth after days then weeks of hot dry weather.
Early summer, the driest on our modern record. The birchwood copse, moist cool haven where I run, is parching now. A grass bleaching, footpath firing, tree wilting parching.
But this evening, just for a little while, the parching eased. The long cloudbare sky became cloudspeckled. Clouds grew, darkened, grew rain heavy, some few precursor raindrops speckled the ground. The heat fell away from sweltering toward merely too warm, then the true rain came down. A sweet soft rain. A rain warm and rejuvenating, joyous to experience. As rain fell petrichor rose, that blessed aroma of hot, dry, rain slaked earth and stone. A beloved scent of summer calling back far memories of gilden* days amongst forests and fells from childhood on to now.
And then near quick as it came, the rain quits. The heat climbs back from merely too warm toward sweltering, the rain marks evaporate. Trees are still wilted, footpaths are still fired, grasses are still bleached.
But yet the air is no longer parched dry. It bears a lingering humidity, a memory of water. In a hawthorn a pigeon preens dampened feathers, beadlets of water bejewel the orchids. The sky, for weeks a cloudbare blue remains cloudspeckled.
A promise that maybe, just maybe, there will be rain once more.
*gilden: Middle English gilden; gelden; gulden from the Old English gylden. An equivalent to gold(+/-en). Yes, I like archaic language. And?