Negative Ions and The Wondrous Benefits of Rain

blueberry leaves in the rai

Blueberry Bush After the Rain

My love affair with rain dates back to my youth. I feel a sense of euphoria as clouds gather and a lightening in my heart. Once the rain falls, I have an intense desire to be outdoors. Last week I pulled a few weeds in the rain and it was bliss. Unfortunately my foot started to throb, not happy about the flex involved in the weed-pulling crouch. If not, I would have been out there for hours. It’s all about the negative ions.

According to WebMD

Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments. Think mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy.

While this doesn’t explain why some people hate the rain, it speaks volumes for my personal sense of glee. As clouds gather, I have more energy, an enhanced awareness of things around me and a feeling of joy. It’s extraordinary.

Daisy like yellow flower

Daisy-like yellow flower

As I drove home from physical therapy today, I heard an interview with author Cynthia Barnett. Her book Rain: A Natural and Cultural History has just been nominated for a National Book Award. I couldn’t wait to come home and look it up.  The synopsis reads:

Rain is elemental, mysterious, precious, destructive.

It is the subject of countless poems and paintings; the top of the weather report; the source of the world’s water. Yet this is the first book to tell the story of rain.
Cynthia Barnett’s Rain begins four billion years ago with the torrents that filled the oceans, and builds to the storms of climate change. It weaves together science—the true shape of a raindrop, the mysteries of frog and fish rains—with the human story of our ambition to control rain, from ancient rain dances to the 2,203 miles of levees that attempt to straitjacket the Mississippi River. It offers a glimpse of our “founding forecaster,” Thomas Jefferson, who measured every drizzle long before modern meteorology. Two centuries later, rainy skies would help inspire Morrissey’s mopes and Kurt Cobain’s grunge. Rain is also a travelogue, taking readers to Scotland to tell the surprising story of the mackintosh raincoat, and to India, where villagers extract the scent of rain from the monsoon-drenched earth and turn it into perfume.

Perfume!!! How has this escaped my grasp for so many years?

Fragrant Pink Hyacinth

Fragrant Pink Hyacinth

As I write this, clouds gather.

tree reflecting in rain on deck

Magnolia Tree Reflections on a Rainy Day

Rain is on the way.

Be still my heart.

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49 thoughts on “Negative Ions and The Wondrous Benefits of Rain

  1. Here have mine! 😀

    I read your wonderful paean of praise to rain – and normally I would be there with you. But right now, at the end of the coldest, wettest January known to man – or certainly me – all I can do is laugh and offer you ours! I want to turn the heating on, I’m so cold – but it is nearly February for goodness sake – we should be sweltering and muttering dire warnings of melting and frying and baking in the hot dry heat…………. Maybe I need to wander down the road to the wild and windy beach and just soak up some of those negative ions…….. or perhaps just move in closer to the Himalayan Salt lamp.

    I’m so glad you are having regular rain though Alys, is it helping to relieve the drought? And I’m glad you are feeling enlivened and even a tad euphoric. And that book sounds most interesting!!

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    • Pauline, I’m stunned to hear that the rain is back and that it’s a cold rain too. I would have thought you would at least have tropical rains in the midst of your summer, though having said that, I realize that I don’t know where your rains come from. In California, many of our storms are referred to as the Pineapple Express. They come from Hawaii, and deliver warm rains. We do get colder storms from Alaska, but they’re less frequent.

      I hope the heat returns soon, Pauline.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rain is a special blessing after a prolonged drought. I still can’t bring myself to complain about it! Although I did see a deluge yesterday. I was dropping my mother home, and we had to sit in the car for about 10 minutes as the rain pelted down. She was able to walk up the path after a while, and I waited, just to make sure she didn’t come floating down the path again!

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    • I’ve heard that you’ve had unseasonably wet weather. I’m glad to hear your mom made it up the path without incident. I’ve met two women this month in PT recovering from broken hips. Hopefully your walkways aren’t too slippery.

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      • Broken hips are not good! I hope those women make speedy recoveries. Mum has fractured her pelvis twice over the last seven years, but fortunately has recovered really well both times. The path is more a trip hazard than slippery. It is made out bricks that have become a little uneven.

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  3. My gosh, I’ve never quite thought about the shape of a raindrop but I do love the smell of rain. Even in the city, the park grass and tree’s all look extra green after the rain. I find wicked weather stories really interesting too. I will often sit through tornado documentaries, marvelling at the power of it all.
    I can see you out there relishing every moment. I used to pick weeds in the rain too at the lake. Our gravel driveway was better for it.
    I envy your green thumb with Hyacinths. They’re gloriously scented but I’ve had no luck with them in a garden. I’ve forced bulbs indoors over winter but outside, nothing. Maybe they were always eaten? Believe it or not, it actually rained here this week too. Today it was 9C or about 50F. Very strange for January but the mild weather is still a hit and appreciated anyways. Spring can’t be too far away…..<3 ❤ x

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    • I never thought about the shape of a raindrop either. It’s all fascinating. Like you, I also enjoy those weather documentaries. I remember the first time we saw one at school in grade 6. I was hooked from then on. My mom also had a story of experiencing a small tornado somewhere in Canada, but since she lived in Ontario, Nova Scotia and Vancouver, I don’t know where she was. Those storms are something else.

      I’ve had a number of bulbs go into the ground, never to see the light of day again. Other than daffodils which have toxic bulbs, many of them are apparently quite delectable. I’ve given up on outdoor tulips. I planed 45 tulips a few years back but only 15 came up. By the following year, zip.

      I”m glad you’re enjoying a mild winter. That must be a welcome break from the usual harsh conditions. And rain, too!

      Ah Spring. 🌷

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The book sounds very interesting. The smell of rain/ or perfume of rain is petrichor. It may be petrichor which helps you to love the rain so much. “This heady smell of oncoming wet weather is something most people are familiar with – in fact, some scientists now suggest that humans inherited an affection for the smell from ancestors who relied on rainy weather for their survival.” http://earthsky.org/earth/whats-that-smell-in-the-air-when-its-about-to-rain Enjoy your rain time! You’ve been waiting a long time for it.

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  5. As parched as you were, with the drought, I can see why rain holds special joy right now! I like rain, too, but so many people are dealing with flooding that I realize there can be tooooooo much of a good thing! Enjoy yours!

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    • Kerry, you are right. I was just mentioning in another comment the destruction we’ve seen in Pacifica, just 45 minutes away. Homes are falling off the edge of the cliff due to crumbling seawall. The images are heartbreaking. Moderation in everything, but with global warming I fear things will continue to get worse.

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  6. I guess rain is disliked for the inconvenience, whereas the negative ion effect is something sub-conscious. In moderation, I love rain for just this effect – as well of course because under normal circumstances (ie when it’s not creating floods) we need the water.

    You must have been going barmy in California without those negative ions for so long!

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    • I’ve often joked that I wish it would rain in the evening and on weekends, so it could be enjoyed, without the extra burden of rush hour traffic or the need to drive in a heavy rain. We have so many accidents here when it rains. The flooding you’ve had is horrible. Any kind of excess weather can do a lot of damage. We’ve had 35 deaths attributed to the recent east coast snow storms. In nearby Pacifica, about 45 minutes drive from here, a series of homes are falling off a cliff into the ocean. It’s awful for the people living there and there is little that can be done. I don’t know why homes were built so close to the cliff. Perhaps the erosion has been a long time coming, but it is sad to see anyone lose a home in this way.

      I have *really* missed the rain.

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      • Sounds like El Niño is causing you some terrible effects. I don’t know if we had any accidents because of the rain but I imagine if you’re not used to driving in it, it can come as a bit of shock (eg remembering longer stopping distances, putting headlamps on).

        We are losing land to the sea as well, though I haven’t heard about cliffs going because of the recent bad weather. I should think the cliff you mention must have already eroded to some extent before the final collapse. Sign of things to come 😦

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        • California drivers are spoiled by good weather, and forget to slow down. Further, when the roads have been dry for so long, then we finally get rain, the surfaces are slick from oil. Many people follow too closely on a good day. Through in a wet road and reduced viability and you’ve got a recipe for fender-bending.

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            • Helen, exactly. We can go for months without any rain so the oil from cars builds up. Then when the first rain hits, people forget to slow down on the slick roads. It’s not unusual to have three to five car pileups because people forget that it takes longer to slow down.

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  7. Ahhhhh… rainy days! So nice for your garden and your heart, Alys! This book sounds truly fascinating. (Wouldn’t it be lovely to read it on a rainy day with a cup of tea?) I’m so happy that you are back in your beloved garden again, Alys! Take it very slowly, my friend. Wishing you more gentle showers in the coming weeks. ♡

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    • Hello Dawn! It’s so nice to hear from you. I agree that it would be fun to read that book during the rain. I’m really looking forward to it.

      My foot starts to throb if I do too much, so I’m paying attention to that and putting my feet up when necessary (well…most of the time…). Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the smell of rain–and you can smell it coming. And there’s that first scent of it–water on rock or dry ground–called petrichor (petri being rock and chor being the blood of the gods) It is elemental and mythic.

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  9. I think I can understand how thirsty for rain you are Alys, after so many months of drought. So do enjoy your showers! I hate rain if I am stuck indoors, but it is quite exciting and the smell of the damp earth in spring is wonderful, I agree. I also like the smell of oncoming rain on a summer’s day… we can usually see and smell it in the valley before it arrives in our garden. In winter it is just cold and miserable though!

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    • Cathy, I’m sure if I lived in a place with freezing cold rain I would not be so optimistic. California rains come in small doses, with storms often measured in fractions. I’ve been in Hawaii during a storm and it too is wonderful. I lived in Canada for my first six years of life, but I only remember the snow days, not the rain.

      The smell is amazing, isn’t it?

      I’ve been meaning to ask you how your feet are doing? Are you finding any relief?

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      • Hi Alys. No real progress with my feet as yet, but hopeful as always! It’s raining and blowing outside today, so glad I do not have to go out in it. Have a relaxing Sunday!

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        • I’m sorry to hear that your feet or no better. It’s such a challenge getting through the days when your feet hurt. Mine is bothering me today, so I’m sitting with my feet up. Our Slinky isn’t doing well, so she’s happy to have my company as she snuggles into the blanket.

          By the time you read this, it will almost be February. January flew.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a beautiful ode to the rain I so love. i will turn down the volume of everything to listen to a wonderful hard rain or even a soft drizzle. I love rain. It feels nurturing to me. I don’t drive in it though anymore. i have to get places between showers but that works quite well here. I like the part of the negative ions. Great information. People made fun of me when I said the wind messes with my ions. I feel scattered and off balance the entire time the wind is blowing. Maybe there is science behind that too. 🙂 One can hope. Love your cheery flowers and the color of the blueberry bush. Spring will be early this year. So will the bugs. 😦

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    • Oh yes, the bugs. And now we’ve got another mosquito-born illness to worry about. I’ll be watching for any standing water like a hawk.

      I do the same thing, Marlene: rain is like music, and deserves a good listen when it’s coming down. Nurturing is a good word for it. It does take care of us, especially when we’re open to it as you and I are. My oldest son loves the rain too, and will be out the door the moment it starts. Some of my favorite photos are of him in the rain.

      I have no doubt that if the wind leaves you feeling scattered that their is a reason for it. It’s funny how people want to make fun of us for things they don’t understand. I’ve put up with it for years.

      On a different note, I gave the beautiful embroidered angels to Sharon this week and shared your thoughtful note. She was delighted and will be sending you a note. You are so dear. xoxox

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Petrichor … how fascinating!
    I enjoyed reading your post, and of course, I love how happy the rain makes you. The comments, links, and thoughts from everyone else were great, too.

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  12. We are kindred spirits. What a fabulous portrayal of the glee rain brings. Perhaps because I was raised in a desert, I feel hope and joy when it starts raining. I can never get enough. And I, too, love to be out in the yard in a warm rain. Hoping El Nino brings you more of the wet stuff!

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