The Smell of Rain Forest

It is the rainy season.

Clouds hang low on the mountains so that you can’t see all of the sharp peaks, and the odd sunbeam that makes it through the surface makes the treetops almost glow. It doesn’t rain incessantly in a rain forest, but mists a lot with some occasional drizzle. The ground has a particular spongy feel when you walk on it, but if you walk where there is ground cover, you won’t get muddy because it absorbs the water so well. Birds flit back and forth and water drips and the waterfalls trickle down the folds in the mountains that they’ve carved out over the past few thousand years.

Because it is winter, the African tulip trees are in bloom. They’re taller than most of the canopy, so there are bursts of orange-red scattered in the shades of green that look almost like fire, they are so vivid. Palm trees stick out of the canopy, too, because they are tall and skinny enough to get through the dense layers of leaves.

And then there’s the smell. It’s not exactly the fresh rain smell most people think of, nor is it the smell of rain at the beach, though we’re no more than 25 miles from the coast. It’s almost musty, and pungent, and it seeps into your car or into your clothes if you get out and walk.

I love that smell.

I have wanted to visit a rain forest, a real one, since I was old enough to understand “jungle” and now I live fifteen minutes’ drive from one and get to watch it every time we visit the windward side of the island. I won’t get to do much, if any, hiking until the rainy season is over because the trails will be muddy and slippery, but I’m looking forward to spring and drier weather and tromps into the Hawaiian jungle. I hear the waterfalls are spectacular…

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