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Small Town Christmas Celebration in Siouxland, Little Sioux

13 Jan
A lit community Christmas Tree in a city park’s gazebo in Little Sioux, Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas has passed. Celebrations are done. But it was nice while driving around during the holiday season to find small communities celebrating the holiday. Most have Christmas ornaments hanging from light posts in the downtown area. But for some small communities, a long tree, decorated, in a central park allows all who visit a moment to enjoy the shared experience by themselves or with others. Until next year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Day and Night in Siouxland, Decature, NE

30 Dec
A bridge connecting Iowa and Nebraska seen from Decatur, Ne, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out photographing in Siouxland sometimes I am pleasantly surprised with results of images made, and other times wished I had done something differently. While out photographing with a friend from the local camera club we spent a little time watching the sun set near a bridge at Decatur, NE that connects with Iowa of which he wanted to do a sunset photograph. His attempts I believe were more productive than mine.

While I was happy with my daytime shot , I felt the night time shot came up a bit short, but it was a nice evening. Fair weather, warm and for a day in October in Siouxland, I am not complaining.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bridge connecting Iowa and Nebraska seen from Decatur, Ne, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Imaginative Christmas Decorations in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha

28 Dec
A Christmas tree made of poinsettias seen at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about it’s easy to find Christmas light decorating on homes that takes one’s imagination to new heights. And with technology it’s easier to sync light strobing and music and it makes for quite the display. But somehow, in my humble mind, that pales in comparison to the tight spent creating a Christmas tree out of different colored poinsettias and placing them to somewhat replicate colored ornaments hanging on a tree. I was simply amazed.

A toy train makes it way around the “Christmas Tree” at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A decorative scene at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Gardens then attended small touches still using plants and adding a toy train one easily associates with the bygone days of such a scene at the base of a tree in a family’s home. The came the “stuffed” animals on the other side of the tree, still surrounded by beds of poinsettias. It was a nice break for this different kind of Christmas season and the effort the people at the Gardens put into creating the display. Affording people a chance to safely get out of the house and enjoy something this holiday season with other various precautions in place. And everyone attending at that time were courteous of others, giving space and wearing masks. A nice day outing amid a chaotic season of sorts.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

“Stuffed” animals guard the “Christmas” tree at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Hundreds or maybe more of poinsettias at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ahh, Relish the Little Birdies in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

26 Dec
A house sparrow is lost in the fall colors reflected in a small pool of water in Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As winter begins to settle in here in Siouxland I will miss seeing the opportunities for photographing certain possibilities until next year. The reflection of fall colors in a pool of water and how directional light in the morning makes trees come alive with their own “electric” light show.

Sometimes life gets busy and one doesn’t take a moment or two to just enjoy those small things or critters one may see on a daily basis. And especially not stopping to simply watch.

A robin seem to stop and take in the fall colors around Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

If I walk briskly or arrive early to a meeting, how will I be affected if I stop and look and watch for a few seconds, observing nature and finding myself milliseconds behind in my apparent schedule. I would guess I will not be that affected, and probably though, the better for pausing and enjoying what nature provides.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A house sparrow sits in a patch of grass near a small pool of water in Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wishing a Merry Christmas to all in Siouxland.

24 Dec
Decorated with lights, the Christmas Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2015. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga ©)

An interesting year in Siouxland will come to a close in a few days. A new year will soon offer other opportunities and possibilities that may not yet be known. But anticipation and expectation can make dreams more palpable and exciting when they do come to fruition.

Like the opening of Christmas presents one has seen under a tree that have been there a few hours or days, creating a bit of excitement of what lays inside. And hopefully fulfilling a wish some has had.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas at the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Lighting up the Holidays in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

18 Dec
A lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a chilly evening when I would prefer to be at home having coffee in a warm house, the lure and allure of seeing Christmas lights in Siouxland is always a strong pull for me to get outside, bundle up and enjoy.

This year because of the coronavirus pandemic the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve put up Christmas lights on walking paths instead of hosting its annual event where historical buildings on the property are opened up and children can visit Santa in its welcome center. And I always try my hand at capturing the lights. But sometimes it’s also fun to play with the light and just see shapes and designs.

Christmas lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday evening, Dec. 10, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday evening, Dec. 10, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I tried making a couple of exposures, one focused and the other slightly out handholding and guesstimating as best as I could my camera position. Basically making one exposure then racking the focus and making the second exposure. While maybe not totally successful, it was fun to see the results. Which I achieved through post processing by layering the two images and then blending them. Nothing ventured…..

Christmas lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday evening, Dec. 10, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday evening, Dec. 10, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I will be going out again to Adams Homestead to “hang out” with some fellow camera club photographers and will look to see what else I might find to experiment with and what kind of twist I can make on photographing these lights. One constant is that I go out 30-40 minutes earlier than my last trip as the sun keeps setting earlier which in my mind makes it easier to “brave the cold” while still enjoying the Christmas holiday.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday evening, Dec. 10, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall Color in Siouxland, Rural Harrison County

16 Dec
The look of fall in rural Harrison County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As winter inches closer with the shortest day of the year making it official, I will still be lamenting the passing of fall as I do every year. On a nice, crisp fall day, fall colors seem to come alive and appear more vibrant,and a “warmish” sun makes the day more enjoyable in Siouxland, without those driving wind gusts that can easily drop the temperature 10-15 degrees.

The look of fall in rural Harrison County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The look of fall in rural Harrison County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cruising back country roads and having the time to stop and enjoy the sights is a ritual I enjoy every year. I am happy I have more time these days to enjoy that ritual even though winter puts a hold on driving some back roads. Never pays to get stuck in the country during the winter. But time will pass and that opportunity I hope will avail itself again next year to maybe some new places and revisit others to see what they look like then.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The look of fall in rural Harrison County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Festive Lights in Siouxland, Bayliss Park, Council Bluffs

14 Dec
Holiday Christmas lights at Bayliss Park in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving around Siouxland is always fun during the Christmas holiday because of the many festive displays of lights that people and communities put up. Some are extensive, some very simple with only a few figures or lamp post decorations.

Holiday Christmas lights at Bayliss Park in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Holiday Christmas lights at Bayliss Park in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs always seems to have such a nice display with most trees and its fountain lit this opinion informed from photos I have seen of previous years. The park was a nice display, although something was amiss with some lights as they came on, and went, off, with no apparent reason or “timed” response/reaction, as though it might be a planned lighting scheme.

Holiday Christmas lights at Bayliss Park in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But with everything, there are challenges. I am sure city crews are not checking out the park at night unless someone lets them know something is amiss. But it was a thing of beauty to hang out until dark to see the trees aglow, and watch a few planes overhead beginning their descent for a nearby airport, adding their own lights to a festive scene.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Holiday Christmas lights at Bayliss Park in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Holly, Jolly Christmas in Siouxland, Adams Homestead, North Sioux City, SD

6 Dec
A snowman greets visitors checking out the lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The sun has already set as a lighted Christmas display comes on at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas celebrations in Siouxland as elsewhere takes on a different atmosphere this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Normally the Homestead would open its buildings up and upwards of a few thousand folk would pass through to visit and see Santa in the welcome center.

But Ranger Jody Moats this year decided it might be too risky for some folk and so with the help of volunteers strung a lot lights around the grounds allowing people to visit, outdoors and enjoy a Christmas light show.

Park Ranger Jody Moats poses by an angel as she becomes turning on Christmas light displays at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Well, Ranger Moats and the volunteers put up a lot of lights and it makes for a festive walk through which will change once a little snow settles onto the ground casting back some reflective white surfaces for the lights to shine above. The walk will be a destination for people wanting to enjoy the Christmas spirit and a chance to forget about current affairs as they cautiously enjoy the lighted scenes at Adams Homestead.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


The schoolhouse is lit for a Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display will greet visitors to the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Last Days of Fall in Siouxland, DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge

4 Dec
Visiting the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge during the remaining fall days outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While driving about Siouxland I took a trip to the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge and got lucky with a warmish day and some remaining fall foliage before the first winter storm came with snow the end of October and removed the color from the park’s landscape. While I enjoyed the color during the visit I noticed not many birds appeared to be migrating through at that time.

Visiting the De Soto Bend National Wildlife Refuge during the remaining fall days outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The weather has been so wacky this year. Being cold, then warm, then cold again, that the seasons seem a bit out of the norm. I still hope to return and see if any birds are passing through on their way to warmer climates and their winter homes before the landscape is covered in white and the temperatures drop too much.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visiting the De Soto Bend National Wildlife Refuge during the remaining fall days outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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