Opening up the senses in the country — it could also be the city — means to go outside, into the weather, the air. Lewis and Clark saw antelope rub their heads on sagebrush to perfume themselves. I camped one night on the Zuni reservation and a light rain fell that exploded the smell of sage around me. Today the dominant scent is dust, stirred by shredding broomweed that has a pungent, woody quality when cut. From time to time, however, the broomweed receded as I shredded wild thyme, rising up in sweet waves to greet me, please me, offering a odor that buffered dust and wood.
In the distance, I see thunderclouds and rain shafts, and coming on the cool breeze is the smell of rain sprinkling the ground, turning dust to loam, a nursery for wild thyme. Dominant not is dust anymore. A revolution of the senses always comes with rain.
My cousin, Sam Gray, whose mother (Myvan Morris Gray) was my great aunt on my maternal grandmother’s side, wrote on facebook that there was word describing the smell of rain:
petrichor — a pleasant, distinctive smell frequently accompanying the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather in certain regions. Also, an oily liquid mixture of organic compounds which collects in the ground and is believed to be responsible for this smell (Oxford English Dictionary).