For years, the word incense made me involuntarily sneer. It conjured memories of the patchouli-laden kids from my college who burned the sticks in their rooms—spaces decorated with giant tapestries—and, worst of all, worshipped jam bands (just end the song already!) I was far more sophisticated. I burned candles from the sale bin at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
I discovered, though, that not all incense is created equal (meaning not all incense is sold at that one hippie store in the mall). There are countless scents to choose from, all with a smokiness that I love. And since incense self-extinguishes, I can be as forgetful as I want, not stressing over whether it’s going to burn my life to hell. I love using one of these four on days when I really need a vacation, because each smells uniquely, beautifully of another—far more interesting—locale.
Fornasetti Incense Box
This incense from the Milanese design house reminds me of being alone in an old Italian church with stained glass windows and mile-high ceilings, a thought so beautiful it makes me reconsider losing my religion.
Juniper Ridge Douglas Fir Campfire
Burning this incense feels akin to taking a beautiful hike outside Portland on a crisp, fall day.
Astier de Villatte Marienbad Incense Box
Named for one of the many mineral-spring-rich spa towns in the Czech Republic, these sticks waft aquatic notes that make me imagine a seaside bonfire somewhere exotic like Sardinia.
Santa Maria Novella Le Quattro Stagioni Primavera Incense
This incense channels that perfect spring day when everything in the world seems to shake off the thaw, collectively wake up from its slumber, and you can smell the optimism floating through the air.