There are some experiences that trigger memories of times long gone in faraway places.

The smell of rain hitting parched earth covered in dead gum leaves is one that transports me back to childhood, to a time when we lived in a hamlet named Terowie. It’s still on the map but most of what I remember of the place is now gone into the shadowy world of history.

For a nine-year-old boy, it was a place of magic.

Steam trains breathed hot steam and smoke as they shunted goods wagons to and fro in the railway yards across the road from our house.

It was a place of hot summer days and freezing summer nights.

A place of cold winters with very little rain.

A place where all fresh water came from the sky and was stored in a huge underground tank.

When it did rain, the dry ground littered with fallen leaves from the gum trees in our backyard gave off a wonderful odour.

Whenever I smell that odour these days I am transported back to those carefree days of boyhood.

Leaves on path

I often wonder how kids that grow up in city apartment buildings ever come to any appreciation of nature and her cycles.

My own sons grew up in suburbia, in a house with a tree-filled garden and within walking distance of a nearby park, populated with majestic gum trees, with a river running through it. So much water and so many trees, even they have no concept of living in a landscape of drought.

I have stood at the window, looking out over the concrete jungle we call Manhattan, and watched the rain fall. No magic smell of rain hitting parched earth there.

Perhaps I should try Arizona the next time I visit.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter.

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