Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My New Favorite Word

I love words. I love language. I love how precise it is. "The OED2, the largest English-language dictionary, contains some 290,000 entries with some 616,500 word forms." Six hundred and sixteen THOUSAND words. Each one with a slightly different meaning. I love finding the perfect word for exactly the right thing. Petrichor is just such a word.

Petrichor is the scent that rises from pavement after rain has begun to fall.

It’s my favorite smell in the whole world. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, that smell immediately takes me back to my great grandmother’s house in the summer. I grew up way out in the country, and paved driveways were a rarity. But Mun had one. And I loved being at her house. I could ride my bike or Big Wheel on her driveway which had a big hill to coast down and it felt like the fastest thing on earth. I was always a kid who liked amusing myself and her yard had an endless supply of amusing things.
But when it started to rain, when I smelled that smell, it was time to come inside.
Mun’s house was always neat and filled with beautiful things and good things to eat. And most importantly, it had her. When I was at her house, I was a kid. I wasn’t the closest approximation to a grown up. I didn’t have to take care of my brother, or do laundry, or feed us, or make sure we got to school on time.

When I smelled that smell, it was time to come inside and wash my feet ( they were always dirty because I only wore shoes when we went into town). Get fed, then climb into one of her big carved beds and snuggle in the sheets so old and soft they felt like cotton balls. And then get up and start all over tomorrow.

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