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What is Petrichor, and does it matter?

I love the warm weather, great for the mood, great for the garden, even better if we get an occasional downpour interspersed with the sun. I also love that smell, it’s almost a feeling really, that you get just before and just after the downpour. I read recently that the smell is called petrichor, defined as “A pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm dry weather.”, and that it comes from various matter like plant oils, bacteria, spores and soil being rehydrated by the moisture in the air before the rain, and then by the rain itself. So, now I know the name, the definition and the explanation, does that change anything? Before I knew those things, I loved the feeling, now I know them, in many ways a little magic has been lost.

Learning the word ‘petrichor’ made me think about how we often want to put a name or a diagnosis to our feelings or behaviours. We sometimes rush to professionalise, when sometimes we’d be better off accepting and working with them - even if we don’t know the professional background to them.

In workplaces we are surrounded by jargon and technical terms. In families, we can rush for a diagnosis to medicalise behaviours and feelings.

You don’t always necessarily need to put a name or diagnosis to a feeling or behaviour. Just like petrichor, knowing the ‘official’ name won’t make the feeling any different, and it may even dull the senses and lose the magic.

Link - Rain: The science behind the sweet smell of a summer shower

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