The impetus to go in search of the scent of the forest for “back home” comes from my son. This late summer, as so often, we are out and about in the forest looking for wild mushrooms and blueberries. But we also find many other great “forest things” such as mosses, cones and branches, to name but a few. Arriving home with a bag of mushrooms, a few blueberries and a bag of “forest stuff”, my son opens them to take a closer look at the treasures he has found. When opening the bag … “MMMM Mama sniff it – it smells better and woodier than before”, says my little forest dwarf. 😉
He’s right, this scent is really lovely and I think to myself, what a shame this can’t be in our home more often. I’m a fan of incense – but to be honest I prefer it at Christmas time. Then there are these incense sticks – which I also like very much – but I can’t read or pronounce all the “ingredients” of these sticks and they usually come from very far away.
In my search for a forest scent for my home, I quickly found it: www.wald-rauch.at, almost on my doorstep. Of course, I tell my forest dwarf about it, and I reach for the phone and dial the “forest smoke” number …
“The best thing to do is to try out the incense sticks yourself and light them in peace and quiet within your own four walls. If you now close your eyes, you could think you are standing somewhere in the forest and sniffing a tree bark.” Christopher Pichler, the man behind the forest smoke number, says when we make an appointment on the phone to set out together in search of the “scent of the forest for home”.
Almost every day Christopher collects local herbs from meadows and forests. He straps a wooden basket to his back and wanders around in the Leit’n area – almost like a real herb witch out of a picture book. The Radstadt local uses these as ingredients for his homemade incense sticks with the simple name “Wald-Rauch” (Forest Smoke).
Even as a child, Christopher spent a lot of time in the forest. “After my forest excursions, my clothes were definitely not allowed in the washing machine, because this forest scent filled my whole nursery,” Chris reminisces about his childhood. From then on, he was fascinated by the idea of somehow capturing the smell of the forest.
When I hear Christopher’s description, my gaze wanders to my son and I have to smile. I just imagine him wandering around in the forest with the wood basket on his back – which is still much too big for him – and taking everything that smells “woody” home with him. Whatever he does later on in life, I hope he finds something that he does with as much passion and enthusiasm as Christopher does, experimenting and fiddling with the scents of the forest.
Christopher explains to us: “The forests of the Tauern region endow us with precious natural products such as:
- Swiss stone pine
- Spruce resin
- Finest mountain herbs
- And many more
It is precisely these treasures of the forest that form the basis of the unique “Forest Smoke Incense”. All these and other ingredients from our forests are finely ground and mixed with fresh spring water – all carefully handmade. Sufficiently dried, 7 sticks each are neatly placed in a homemade package made of Austrian stone pine veneer and lovingly closed with a larch cone. The Wald-Rauch sticks can be purchased in selected shops in Radstadt and directly from Christopher.
After our day full of fragrant impressions, we go home with our forest smoke samples and look forward to what awaits us. Finally, Christopher told us that smoking has a great effect on us humans: the many herbs and woods contain essential oils that have an antibacterial or germ-reducing effect, such as lavender, rosemary and thyme …
If summer is too hot for you to put on your sturdy mountain boots and collect metres of altitude, beautiful views and experience the wonderful scent of the forest, autumn is the right time and Radstadt is the right place for you.
Whether on foot or by bike, Radstadt and the surrounding Salzburger Sportwelt make autumn your new favourite time of year. If you’re already there, you can pick up your forest smoke with you right here in Radstadt.
photo credits: Sonja Holzer, Christopher Pichler – Waldrauch