Nature and Man in Siouxland, Sioux City

21 Jan

While downtown in Sioux City recently, I was struck by a scene as I walking to one of the local museums and this scene again brought home the intersection of man and nature to me. I looked up and saw a branch, then clouds floating on a building of glass and I was stuck with the thought of man and nature abiding together. As progress has been made and architects get more creative it’s possible to find more surreal surroundings in my estimation. This one may not seem like that, but man seems determined to include nature, thankfully, in his plans when designing cities, most of the time. And for that, I am grateful.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Nature and human structure interact along a street in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Brutally Cold Days in Siouxland, Falls Park, Sioux Falls, SD

19 Jan

Recently the weather in Siouxland has been brutally cold.

And I read with amusement the lamentations and OMG pronouncements of online headlines and national tv news broadcasts of the brutal cold when it hits the East Coast. Maybe that area doesn’t get much terrible cold, we’re talking minus zero and colder air temp with windchill factors creating temperatures more like -20 or more. On one of those terrible cold days I drove to Sioux Falls, SD and to Falls Park. The air temp on my vehicle said 8 degrees when I reached the area. And to look around the park confirmed that it was mightily cold.

A frozen water falls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The falls at Falls Park was frozen but for a small shooting stream near the bottom. And for a park normally filled with people, I only saw a handful that day walking about and looking.

Some open water was seen flowing in the Big Sioux River that passes through Falls Park despite the frozen water falls in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Only a few people braved an 8 degree day to witness a frozen water falls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And to be fair, maybe everyone in the area has already seen the falls frozen over. Recently a friend told me they had heard it on the news.

Some water flow still spills out of a frozen water falls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Normally teeming with people on warmer days, no one was witnessing the frozen water falls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I have to admit I spent maybe 20 minutes walking about shooting some photos, and then I too, made tracks back to my vehicle and the heated seats it happens to have, unlike the available seats around the park.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Normally teeming with people on warmer days, the park bench was empty of people witnessing the frozen water falls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge

17 Jan

Last fall while heading to southern Siouxland I stopped in at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge which actually straddles two states, Iowa and Nebraska, and did a short hike in nice weather, but limited area because of the migratory waterfowl movement in preparation for winter. It’s a nice place to spend a day, or even half a day. it also houses historical information about river movement during the early territorial times when people and goods moved upriver to the outer reaches of the early westward expansion of the U.S.

A raptor keeping watch for lunch along an inlet from the Missouri River at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A trail map of the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

There are a few exhibits within the learning or welcome center with staff there to assist one. And local area schools visit to learn more about their area and local history and the early pioneers.

A local school group visits the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge and play games that relate to animals found near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Exhibits abound at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge welcome center near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

But the attraction really is watching migratory birds that pass through, resting on their yearly trips and exploring the area through various trails that are easily accessible.

A walking trail makes its way through the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Trails traverse wooded areas at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A view out of a window at the welcome center at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge show resting geese near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

It’s a good place to get away from the stresses of the world, commune with nature as it were and just enjoy some peace and quiet.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Over the Moon in Siouxland, Bronson

15 Jan

Early one evening I thought I would go out and look for images in Siouxland having seen too many beautiful sunsets a few days previous. The color in the sky, the fact that the cold, arctic air had not yet descended on Siouxland made it hard not to go. This time out though I didn’t find the beautiful setting I was hoping for to show the setting sun, but did find a spot in the Floyd Township Cemetery on a hill to see the moon rising.

An older grave marker from another century has seen the moon rising for decades from the Floyd Township Cemetery near Bronson, Iowa Thursday Nov. 30, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I don’t shoot with long lenses anymore. Not working for newspapers the glass was laying about gathering dust and these days I spend more time working with short primes and shooting a little more atmospheric as it were. Sometimes shooting tight meets the needs of telling a story by eliminating other elements surrounding a subject. Shooting with shorter lenses challenges one to do better.

The moonrise was pretty and the setting sun lent that somber feel to the resting place for earlier settlers who had come to this area to start a life. On a hill, peaceful in the country setting, a place to contemplate a life lived and what comes after and a change of one day into another.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The rising moon becomes visible over the countryside near Bronson, Iowa Thursday Nov. 30, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The moon risES over the countryside and the Floyd Township Cemetery near Bronson, Iowa Thursday Nov. 30, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Winter in Siouxland, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD

13 Jan

While visiting a farm show held in a sporting venue of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD, I took a little walk around campus. It was a cold, cold day with the temperature hovering around 10 degrees. And of course there was a breeze. Which made the cold feel even colder.

Tracks through the snow frozen in place on an extremely cold day at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Even with the sun shining it was cold and very deceiving. It might have been a picture perfect day with a dazzling blue sky and some clouds, but I was chilled when I later ducked into the student center for some coffee and a warm up. Luckily it was open. The students would be returning that weekend to begin their spring semester. As I have gotten older I appreciate picture perfect days, but prefer them with temperatures in the 60’s.

A cold and crisp day prior to the start of spring classes at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The towers of Old Main stand out against a blue sky on an extremely cold day at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I ran into a couple of people I assumed were professors preparing for the next semester. Unlike some students I photographed a year or so ago, these two were dressed for the weather. Experience and age does teach a few things.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Braving the cold on a chilly day before classes for the spring semester start at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Morning is rising in Siouxland, Sioux City

11 Jan

With the rollback of daylight saving’s in Siouxland the sunrise is a lot nicer to see happening around 7:30 rather than 5 or 5:30 a.m. Although I am generally awake or getting there anyway, I should have taken advantage of the recent warmer winter days to get out and photograph sunrises. But alas, I did not. That second cup of coffee has a strong pull and so I sat in my backyard and watched morning take shape. Rich hues as the sun began to rise above a horizon line I could not see and the sky turning crimson for the start of a new day. I guess I could make a New Year’s resolution and make the effort next year to get out earlier. And maybe I will, after that second cup of coffee.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Morning sunrise Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Exploring Small Towns in Siouxland, Blair, NE

9 Jan

On one of my visits in southern Siouxland I stopped by to visit the nearby community of Blair, NE. A small community with a pretty downtown. It’s just down the road from the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge and is maybe 10-12 miles from Missouri Valley.

Downtown’s main street remains busy in Blair, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The Washington County seat is located in Blair and it has a rather impressive courthouse just off of the downtown area. It has a population just under 10,000 and seems to be a fairly thriving community with a lot of harvest trucks passing through the downtown area as farmers finished their fall harvests of corn and soybeans.

Washington County Courthouse in Blair, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A statue of a Union Soldier on a monument to those who served during the Civil War stands in front of the Washington County Courthouse in Blair, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I kind of figure with prediction of snow coming and colder temps my forays out may slow a bit, but I am still hopeful to do more exploration around Siouxland during the winter months. I may just not be walking as much  when I am out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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