Last week’s rain did postpone this event, but this Friday it’s really happening! Don’t miss the “Green Friday” Festival, a welcome alternative to Black Friday. This event is dedicated to sustainability and love of the environment. The Place: Kfar Ben Nun.
Come one, come all! We’ll be there…
How Beautiful is the Rain!
By H.W Longfellow
How beautiful is the rain! After the dust and heat, In the broad and fiery street, In the narrow lane, How beautiful is the rain!
How it clatters along the roofs, Like the tramp of hoofs! How it gushes and struggles out From the throat of the overflowing spout
Across the window-pane It pours and pours; And swift and wide, Like a river down the gutter roars The rain, the welcome rain! […]
How joyful and exciting is the arrival of rain, especially the season’s first showers!
Even with the fast pace of life, and concrete stretching across vast expanses, we still maintain a basic yearning for rain and the lively wet-and-wildness it brings. When I tried to find answers to the question “what is that scent after rain?” I found scientific explanations (to follow) alongside a palpable gush of yearning for that smell, the memories it evokes of childhood and home, to a time and place where we started to grow, to send out roots and reach a specific starting point. Perhaps this is why it stirs in one’s heart a feeling of renewal and a fresh, new start.
The scent of rain is extracted and produced wisely (for us and other living creatures, as you will soon see) by nature’s main actors: the plants, microbes, and rocks. In nature, this scent has two main components: geosmin and petrichor.
Geosmin (literally “earth smell”) is an organic compound produced by various microorganisms: in the water these are seaweed, while in the earth they are microbes. These microbes die when the earth is dry and hot, sending out geosmin-loaded spores that can survive in a dormant state, even over many years of very dry, hot seasons. Once they meet rain and moisture, the geosmin smell is augmented, the spores disperse into the air through the raindrops, and emit the “rain-like” scent—basically, the smell of newly-wet soil. Our love for this scent is important to the microbes, who need us to come close and toy with their spores in order to disseminate them. And it is true: the human nose is extremely sensitive to geosmin and is able to detect it at very low concentrations.
One of the most sensitive animals to geosmin is the camel. That comes as no great surprise, since this animal has a profoundly acute need to pick up even the slightest trace of the scent of water and moisture. Camels can detect water from a very great distance (up to 80 km!) due to their heightened sensitivity to the scent of geosmin. In camel terms, it is a matter of life and death. Also, many dust mites, like earthworms and other excavators, are attracted to the scent of geosmin and assist the microbes in their mission to disperse.
These microbes, actinobacterias, and more specifically streptomyces, are a group of vital soil-dwelling organisms which produce antibiotic substances that naturally fight infections and fungus. Perhaps our attraction to this smell is not only due to nostalgia for a time in our life where we had a wet plot of soil nearby, but also a key example of the pull to substances that are supposed to protect us – specifically throughout the cold, rainy winter.
But this smell is not always desirable. Water purification devices attempt to remove it from the groundwater which ends up in your faucets. Winemakers try to fight it to prevent a bouquet of mildew in their vino, and even pharmaceutical companies demur from marketing earthy-smelling medicines. A revolutionary study pertaining to the composition and formation of geosmin aspires to solve that problem. In our boxes, you will savor the geosmin in our beets, the secret ingredient in their earthy taste.
The second component in this scent is Petrichor (from Greek petra “stone” + ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology). This impressive term, the modern meaning of which is “the nice fragrance accompanying rain after a dry spell,” was coined by two Australian researchers, Bear and Thomas, in an article they published in the 1960’s. Various plants extract oils into the atmosphere, which accumulate upon clay-like soil, rocks and stones. During dry seasons, a larger amount accumulates on the soil and rocks, and once the air grows moister and the rain falls, they are freed into the air, wafting their scent about.
Bear and Thomas wanted the petrichor to explain the special phenomenon of rapid growth and blooming which occurs in desert areas after short rains. They tried to show that there is something in this oil compound which expedites growth. To their surprise, they discovered the opposite: the petrichor slows down and even prevents sprouting and growth. They believe this to be a means for the seeds to protect themselves from short rains followed by the return of the dry spells. Sprouting which is not followed by additional watering brings about the demise of the sprout, while in its seeded, non-sprouted state, it still carries the potential to wait for a real rain. A strong, serious rain will wash the oil off the seeds and annul the stalling of sprouting.
Over the past few decades, we have learned about the destructive aspect of rain, and I don’t necessarily mean disasters like tsunamis or floods. Rain, after all, meets everything that exists around it, and the moisture intensifies these scents, causing its own reactions. If the pervading air carries unpleasant smells, they will be intensified by the rain’s moistness. Gasoline smells, garbage, dust, sewage— all return with a vengeance in the rain. Pollution, as well, is collected in the tiny raindrops, turning into dangerous acids which provide disastrous watering that pollutes plants, lakes and animals. By adding more trees, specifically in noxious-smelling cities that are covered in concrete, and decreasing the contaminates that we release into the atmosphere, the scales will be tipped in favor of the petrichor fragrance that stirs within us a craving for the hearth and home. It’s worth it, don’t you think?
Meanwhile, with this week’s mostly sunny weather, we are making good use of our saturated, satisfied field for the never-ending chores that the tail end of autumn brings.
Wishing you all warmth of heart, quenching of thirst, and the lovely, simple joy of rain,
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror and the entire Chubeza team
WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?
Monday: Kohlrabi/fennel/onions, baby radishes/turnips/daikon, parsley, winter spinach/arugula/totsoi, carrots/slice of pumpkin, lettuce, sweet potatoes, cabbage/broccoli/cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers. Small boxes only: celery.
Large box, in addition: long Thai lubia beans/green or yellow string beans/Jerusalem artichokes, beets/eggplant, leeks/scallions, Swiss chard/kale.
FRUIT BOXES: Oranges/pomelit, clementinas, avocados, bananas, pomegranates.
Wednesday: Kohlrabi/fennel/turnips, broccoli/zucchini, parsley/arugula, carrots/slice of pumpkin, lettuce/totsoi, sweet potatoes, cabbage/cauliflower/onions, tomatoes, cucumbersת Swiss chard/kale/spinach. Small boxes only: celery.
Large box, in addition: Long Thai lubia beans/green or yellow string beans/garlic, baby radishes/daikon/scallions, beets, eggplant/Jerusalem artichokes.
FRUIT BOXES: Oranges/pomelit, clementinas, avocados, bananas/apples/pears, pomegranates/carambola.