Oh boy, oh boy, on boy, we had a light rain this morning. Rain this early in October is somewhat unprecedented for my part of inland Northern California. The garden is so happy! The birds are so happy! I am so happy! The cat is decidedly not happy. But she's never happy so she doesn't count.
I smelled the rain coming. You know the smell I'm talking about. I thought it was the smell of ozone, but I wasn't sure, and so I did some research. Thanks to Scientific American, I went down a rabbit hole of rain-smells (all quotes below are from that source). That smell before the rain arrives is indeed ozone. It happens when "an electrical charge splits atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen molecules into separate atoms. Some of these recombine into nitric oxide, and this in turn reacts with other atmospheric chemicals, occasionally producing a molecule made up of three oxygen atoms - ozone, or O3."
Then, just after the rains arrive, falling water disturbs odoriferous molecules on surfaces and carry them into the air. If you're near vegetation, that's what you'll smell. If you're near concrete or asphalt, then you'll smell that. Those scents are called "petrichor."
There's one more rain scent. That's the one you smell after the rains depart, leaving wet earth. "This is the aroma of geosmin, a metabolic by-product of bacteria." It's the smell that supposedly makes us want to go out and dig in the dirt.
I've smelled all three of these scents today, and actually I don't want to go dig in the dirt - I want to nest. I've got a pork shoulder braising in the oven, and some other comforting spicy smells are joining those of the rain. I'm ready to make a cup of tea and sit a while with a book. Luckily I have some time today to do just that. But first, I'm going to go make sure the rain barrels are hooked up to the downspouts. I don't want to miss the next surprise rain!