Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The smell of water

I was in the desert the first time I smelled water. We were camping in a little orange-cliffed bend of the Gila River, a thread of green in that red country of New Mexico, and bullfrogs and dragonflies danced above the rocky shallows.

In the Southwest you can smell dust and warm pine bark and hot stone, so when that liquid and unmistakable scent bloomed out at dusk, I realized I was smelling fresh water.

I thought of this on Sunday, when I was hosing water into a bucket to water some new plants. There's something magical about the sound of water plunging into water, whether at the top of a breaking wave or a the trickling ripples of a shallow creek. And as I stood there, musing, holding the hose, I smelled the water for the first time in what has felt like a very long winter.

Later that day, the temperature climbed into the eighties and we took a happy dog to the lakefront park to gallop around with his equally happy friends. I stood and breathed in the warm watery smell of the lake and the rain-heavy clouds gathering their skirts above the mountains.

It reminds me of sailing, that river-smell. Sunlight flashing on big water, the muddy marsh odor near shore, and the gusty fresh breath of wind as the boat leans, the sail catches, and away you go.


Babs said...

Fabulous descriptions--uses all the senses!

Anonymous said...

Living in a dry climate I've come to savor the smell of the first rain of fall, heavy pats of rain splattering down on warm asphalt, damp dust and the medicinal aroma of wet eucalyptus. I wonder what the smell of water is like in the Sahara, in the Himalayas?

S R Wood said...

I think it smells the same in those dry climates: it smells like life.