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December 25, 2013

I was walking in the high desert of southern New Mexico, mostly following the arroyos, up away from the housing development, past the barb wire, towards the mountains as they glowed red in the Christmas Eve sunset. And it was strange, because as far as anybody knew there had not been any rain since the storm showers on Saturday, but the ground had moisture in it, and the smell of it, the smell of the rain in the desert, was very strong. Petrichor, that is the name for it, the odor that rises from the dry earth when the rain falls upon it. It comes from compounds made by soil bacteria, and also by plants, especially the creosote bushes so abundant in these deserts. Petrichor. It is good to have a name for it, something so beautiful needs a name. For over an hour I walked in petrichor, and it never faded or grew stale, I never got tired of it. Walking back it got cooler, the wind picked up, and, as I came up to the houses, the smell of woodsmoke rose up and gently took possession of the air.

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