Selecting a Subject in Siouxland, rural Iowa and Nebraska

2 Mar
A lone leaf, left behind at the Missouri Valley Welcome Center just outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Setting out with a purpose when photographing is always a good course to take when time is limited and the destination known. But it doesn’t always work out that way. In a free wheeling photo course I offer at a local community college I take the “students” to various locations I have previously visited and share with them a place in which to become familiar and find photographic opportunities.

Finding a perfect photographic subject at Preparation Canyon State Forest Overlook north of Pisgah, Iowa Nov. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes depending on the place and subject matter it can be challenging to different students at different times with different interests. Hence the purpose of the class in being prepared to change one’s photographic perception whether for class or a vacation or whatever the occasion. Circumstances change and one should be ready to pivot with those changes which may bring opportunity or not.

Greeted by a subject at the No Toll Troll Stroll park in Oakland, NE Saturday, October 31, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having worked for a few smaller newspapers I always enjoyed getting out and photographing and learned that my preconception of what I might encounter may not always hold true to what I found Thinking on one’s feet is probably a good way of putting it. Seeing the opportunity to photograph something as opposed to photographing what one might think is possible when getting to a destination. One never left a newspaper assignment without having something “usable”. I had a few editors “disappointed” because I didn’t come back with the photograph of what they imagined in their mind. And never mind that what they imagined may not have existed except for in their own head, one just has to be open to the opportunity of what is, rather than be disappointed with what is not.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Finding some color on a fall day at Preparation Canyon State Park north of Pisgah, Iowa Nov. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning about Mythology in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

28 Feb
The face of at large gnome in the Lauritzen Gardens fantasy “fairy land” which recounts various mythologies from around the world seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it worthwhile as I travel about Siouxland to learn. About places, history, and other sundries of life. It was a pleasant surprise to see mythology on display at the Laurtizen Gardens in Omaha, NE, and done in such a creative way.

A walk through a fantastical fairy land at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE.

The Gardens touched on various mythological creatures from different parts of the world and ended with a walk through a magical and inventive use of plants in its display of some of these creatures.

The Lauritzen Gardens creates a fantasy “fairy land” recounting various mythologies from around the world seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Information about various mythologies shown at the Lauritzen Gardens fantasy “fairy land” seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For a cold day it was a pleasant way to spend time indoors learning in a fun setting and enjoying someone’s imagination. Since “timed entries” are required it was an uncrowded environment to explore.

Families look over an exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardens which creates a fantasy “fairy land” recounting various mythologies from around the world seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A display about world mythologies seen at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the coronavirus limiting various aspects of life, it’s nice to see some places behaving responsibly and giving people a chance to get out and take in a little “art” and enjoy a little time away from home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fairy housing at the Lauritzen Gardens fantasy “fairy land” recounting various mythologies from around the world seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.With the umbrellas one could almost imagine Mary Poppins dropping in for a visit. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Fairy housing at the Lauritzen Gardens fantasy “fairy land” recounting various mythologies from around the world seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Lauritzen Gardens creates a fantasy “fairy land” recounting various mythologies from around the world seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Frosty Winter’s Day in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

26 Feb
Cattle graze in a corn field harvested in the fall of 2020 on a frosty winter’s day in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Tuesday, February 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A warmer day in Siouxland and a chance to take a short drive around the countryside, enjoying some of Nature’s winters work. A recent frosting of trees and buildings adds a little beauty to an otherwise normal winter’s day a chance to leave the house without freezing extremities and perchance to dream of “greener pastures”as the calendar marches ahead one day at a time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Day in Siouxland, Adams Homestead, North Sioux City, SD

24 Feb
A cross country skier get some exercise on a brisk day at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, February 3, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some winter days in Siouxland people just want to get out, especially on those days when the sun is shining and the temps are above zero. The last few days with temperatures reaching -40 overnight with windchill, the thought of leaving a warm house gives one chills before even feeling that cold gust on the face when the front door opens.

Some local gees wing their way to another destination flying over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, February 3, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even the local animal population wants to get around a bit, maybe finding another feeding spot while trying to survive this particular winter. At Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve the place has nicely groomed trails year round, even in winter that hikers, skiers and snow shoe walkers enjoy. And sometimes just getting out to feel some fresh air without the thought of frostbite setting in within minutes can be motivational itself.

Even the heartiest of creatures learn to conserve their energy during these cold days and extremes in weather, all hoping for spring to arrive, sooner than later.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two bison in a feedlot situated next to the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, February 3, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History of Women’s Suffrage in South Dakota, Old Courthouse Museum, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

22 Feb
A history lesson about prohibition and keeping South Dakota dry in the early 20th century seems a repeat of the now push to keep the use of marijuana in any form including medicinal out of the state, seen in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of historical events are currently on display at the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. One of the displays talks about women’s suffrage and the fight to obtain the vote, something that continues today although it’s just not women that some individuals in power seem bent on restraining others attempt to be involved in the political process.

A history lesson about women’s suffrage and their right to vote seen in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems obvious that the more people involved in a democratic process the better the society. But I guess some folk are fearful of their opinions and beliefs being “watered down” by opinions and beliefs that do not coincide with their own. So in some ways the more folk talk about a sacred process of democracy the less sacred it becomes because of paternalistic factors and beliefs that others are not as well equipped to make informed decisions. Education would seem an obvious answer, but then, who decides what that educational information should include for informing a populace?

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Women’s suffrage seemed to occur along with keeping South Dakota dry in the early 20th century, seen in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Unexpected pleasures in Siouxland, Finding Visitors in rural Plymouth County

20 Feb
An eagle feeds while another waits along the Big Sioux River in a winter scene off of Highway 12 near Broken Kettle Grasslands preserve Tuesday, February 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while out and about driving in Siouxland I come across something I never planned. And then I sometimes find something I never knew I had photographed until I look at my images at home. While enjoying a day out in warmer temperatures of 12 degrees, I stopped along the Big Sioux River to photograph the meandering stream. When I had finished and was heading back to my vehicle I stopped and photographed the river in the other direction. There is a bridge there, and while it was not spectacular I made a few images. Then I photographed beyond the bridge, working with a newly acquired lens and putting it through some paces. It was not until I had returned home and looked at those images did I realize that there were two eagles down river that I did not see with the naked eye and wished I had.

An unexpected pleasure to be enjoyed later and maybe another trip to look for the birds.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A winter scene of the Big Sioux River meandering off of Highway 12 near Broken Kettle Grasslands preserve Tuesday, February 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Waiting for Spring in Siouxland, rural South Dakota

18 Feb
A snow covered gravel road off of Highway 4 in South Dakota not far from Akron, Iowa Tuesday, February 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like many folk in Siouxland and elsewhere, I am waiting for spring and passable roads to again explore the area and places I have, and have not been. Some roads during winter I might not attempt to navigate without a pickup truck with real four-wheel drive. So looking over the hill to see what lies beyond will have to wait for a thaw and maybe some road conditioning for some places to be accessible without problems.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Winter in Siouxland, Sioux City

16 Feb
Birds, possibly starlings, fluff out their feathers to fight off the cold on a chilly winter’s day in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, February 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The little rodent, affectionately known as Punxsutawney Phil, has decided it’s seen its shadow, allowing another 6 weeks of winter to linger around the Siouxland area and other places as well. Boogers. It has been a pleasant weather so far as winters go, but the next couple of weeks temps are predicted to stay below freezing and below zero with wind chill taking them down into double digits. Not something I am looking forward too. Bird activity has been mixed with the backyard neighbors scarce some days and around the next.

A red-bellied woodpecker feasts on some bird food in a backyard on a chilly winter’s day in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, February 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Long winters can be okay until the temperature dips below zero and then heads into minus double digits because of wind chill, which there seems to be a lot of that in Iowa. One could only imagine settlers on these plains in the 19th century with mud houses on an open plain with the wind howling and dipping temperatures into lows that impossibly frigid.

So spring is on my mind with temperatures in the 30’s. I even like 40’s. Thinking of greening grass and the warm rays of the sun. It will arrive, but at this point seems like somewhere in a distant future.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Backyard birds, possibly starlings, sit on a neighbor’s chimney on a chilly winter’s day in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, February 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking in History’s Footsteps in Siouxland, rural Monona County

14 Feb
An older cemetery, many grave sites at the Belvidere Cemetery contain the remains of early pioneer settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I know I have visited a few different cemeteries in the Siouxland area. Each is unique in its own way. Each has history of early settlers who lived and died nearby, settling a part of then frontier but what is now western Iowa. And as I have speculated previously the landscape around which these souls are buried must be so different than what is seen these days. More land being farmed, no more native prairie grass waving in the wind. And more people populating what must of then been a more desolate and somewhat isolated frontier.

A sign welcomes visitors to the older Belvidere Cemetery, many grave sites here contain the remains of early pioneering settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A country road leads to an older cemetery. Many grave sites at the Belvidere Cemetery contain the remains of early pioneer settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Doing some online looking did not bring any general information about this burial site or the community of Belvidere. Names of the deceased are listed, but no cross references without further genealogical research. While not doing a lot of looking there at the cemetery itself, I have found that not many names are duplicated among the various cemeteries I have visited with earlier dates from the 19th Century. Guessing relatives did not travel far or met and married folk from a very far distance, even miles by today’s standards

This older Belvidere Cemetery, like many, sits top a hill and has grave sites containing the remains of early pioneering settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

These are peaceful places, a good resting place in an area that departed souls can look out from and still see the surrounding hillsides that may have graced their views during those earlier years as the area was being populated with people looking for a place west of the Mississippi. Seeking fortune, a new life or solitude, and maybe a new beginning.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An older cemetery, many of the grave sites in the Belvidere Cemetery contain the remains of early pioneering settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The entrance to the Belvidere Cemetery, which contains the remains of early pioneering settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enduring the Cold in Siouxland, rural Plymouth County

12 Feb
Frost on the muzzle of a horse grazing in a snow covered field at the Broken Kettle Grasslands preserve Tuesday, February 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

We humans are not the only ones needing to put up with recent cold temperatures recently. While out driving about Siouxland I came across three horses grazing outdoors. There was a barn nearby so one would assume they bed down onto some nice straw for the evening.

But it was a sunny day, and I can only guess like their human counterparts they were enjoying a brief respite in the sunshine during a balmy 12 degree high kind of day. Waiting for warmer temperatures to return and melt some of this white stuff and make it bearable again to be outdoors for more than a brief period of time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Horses, their muzzles frosted over, graze in a snow covered field at the Broken Kettle Grasslands preserve Tuesday, February 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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