The season of spring in Wisconsin is welcomed by all even though it means that we may only have 2 sunny and warm days out of 7. It slowly brings back the colors we miss so greatly over the winter months.
The average human eye can register about 1 million colors, none more than hues of green. This makes sense if you think about our need for produce to survive and because there are so many different greens in plant life, we need to be able to differentiate one from another.
There is an area of Racine County named Caledonia. It is home to farms, ranches and a never ending supply of images for a lifetime of photography and painting. It is also home to The Caledonia Conservancy and spring has landed there with a cannon ball splash!
One section of the conservancy is called the Ehrlich Right Of Way. It was once part of a railway running from Racine to Milwaukee and was generously donated to the conservancy by the Ehrlich family.
The trail head parking lot is located at the end of Short road just off of 5 mile road. The road spur runs between two photogenic private properties and ends in a 3-4 car gravel parking lot. Just beyond the lot is an area designated for picnics and beyond that to the north is the set of trails.
Walk along the first trail to admire the farm land to the west. Avoid the bee keepers space and walk the spur to your right to connect to the old rail line.
The rail line runs about a mile north and connects to 6 mile road. Turn back and take a short walk through the small forest. The woods to the west of the trail are part of the Renak-Polak Maple Beech Woods State Natural Area. Along with marked and unmarked trails there is a creek that runs through the woods and is sometimes flooded, so proceed with caution.
This little stretch of forest is a great place to practice Shinrin-Yoku and give your spirit a good post winter cleanse. It is a safe and relatively quiet place to calm your mind on a day when you just need a quick little fix. If you plan it right you may even cross paths with the herd of deer who rule these woods. I once saw them running full speed through the forest and counted at least 9 deer!
Next time you find yourself in Racine, or if this inspires you to go out for an adventure, stop in for a bath in the woods. You can even take home a dozen farm fresh eggs!
Happy trails folks!
P.S. The conservancy asks that visitors respect the privately owned properties surrounding the public lands, so watch for signs and remain on the conservancy grounds. Also, watch for horses, allow them the curtesy of acknowledging their existence, you will both be happier for doing so.
P.S.S. Here is a recipe for a warming rice bowl upon your return from a cool spring hike!
Fish and vegetable rice bowl
1 cup rice (or your grain preference) Begin cooking your rice first and it will be finished cooking by the time your toppings are cooked through.
6-8 oz salmon (or other fish of your liking, I chose salmon for the color)
1 small yellow onion, julienne cut
1 small zucchini, cut in half moons
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach
1 tsp chopped garlic, 1 tsp Slap Your Momma seasoning (It is a cajun seasoning mix available at most fish stores) salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup water, fish stock or 1/4 cup white wine mixed with 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
Saute onions in 1 T olive oil until lightly browned. Add zucchini, peas, a pinch of salt and pepper and Slap Your Momma Seasoning, cook until lightly brown, add fish, cook through. Add garlic cook a few seconds then add spinach to wilt. Add water, stock or wine mix, let cook down just a little to deglaze the pan and give your sauce a nice brown color. Add cream and let cook until just thick. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and Slap Your Momma.
Serve over rice or grain choice. Serves 2 adults a nice light dinner or lunch.