Climb into the Cave – Santorini, Greece

Climb into the cave

Climb into the cave, Santorini, Greece

We climbed to the cave in the midday heat, appreciative of the shade as its vault eclipsed the sun. Fifty metres separated its base from its roof. We cut off the steep path and scrambled between two crags, pausing to catch our breaths as the ground beneath our feet became loose. For all its height the cave was relatively shallow, and our hands were soon upon the dusty surface of the back wall.

A hundred metres below lay the flatlands of Santorini’s south-eastern coastal plains. Lethargic waves rolled onto the island’s black volcanic sands, pushing the scent of sea salt and plant resin into my airways.

Waking me from my reverie, a flock of turtle doves winged into the cave, dislodging a bank of debris as they came to rest somewhere in the cavity’s upper reaches. Landing not far from my person, part of me wished I’d been beneath the rockfall; I could think of no greater souvenir from our adventure than an abrasion from a dove in a cave.

What makes the rain smell so good?

The smell of the rain

Why does the rain smell so good?

A few weeks back I went walking in the Sooke Hills on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. It hadn’t rained for a number of days, but midway through the hike I began to feel raindrops tinkering on my sunhat. The smell was magnificent – earthy, organic and raw – but I didn’t know what was causing it.

Keen to determine the answer, I raced back home, slipped on some cosy clothes, made a hot chocolate and got to researching. The exquisite scent, it seemed had a similarly handsome name: petrichor.

Petrichor’s recipe

  • Plant oils – secreted by plants, these oils are released buoyantly into the air during a downpour
  • Bacteria chemicals – created by those hard-working bacteria in the planet’s precious soil systems, these chemicals are freed into the atmosphere as the first few raindrops hit the ground

Other aromas that inspire me to strap on my boots

  • Baking pine trees in the late summer sun
  • Honeysuckle in the spring
  • Autumn leaves on a riverbank
  • Mushrooms in the undergrowth

Autumn leaves on the riverbank

Mushroom in the undergrowth

Mushroom in the undergrowth