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Summer Days in Siouxland, Sioux City

1 Aug
A squirrel checks out a visitor as it snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer days in Siouxland just aren’t enjoyed by we humans. Visitors to a backyard looking for a morning snack enjoy the shade before the heat of the day sets in and it’s nap time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A squirrel snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A squirrel snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Summer’s Day in Siouxland, Arnolds Park

28 Jul
A father and son make memories they will remember later while enjoying a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s been a while that I have traveled to some places within Siouxland this last year. Places, Arnolds Park and Okoboji that I enjoy, but for one reason or another I just didn’t make it there during the year of COVID-19. It’s a nice place to visit, and this particular day I didn’t get around to some places I would have liked, but that just means another trip down the road with time to spend at these other places.

New signage along a promenade walk in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Arches dot the promenade walk in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A new look near the amusement park in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a “tourist destination” during the week rather than on a weekend sometimes means not as many people. And that makes it easier getting around to places. I noticed a few changes to the waterfront like the nod to a former Iowan business person and legislator. But some things never change, like being greeted by photogenic regulars to also like to enjoy a day hanging out with friends and relatives.

Gulls enjoy a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Enjoying a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And change I didn’t notice was the replacement of a walking trail in favor of an actual sidewalk which local residents and those folk visiting find it much more easily navigated than the former rut that is part of a State of Iowa conservation easement allowing folk a chance to see the lake from the surrounding high ground.

A Dept. of Natural Resources marker shows an easement where visitors can walk a trail overlooking the West Lake Okoboji in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Cement sidewalks replace what was once a dirt trail along an Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources trail in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Enjoying a summer’s day and a view of West Lake Okoboji in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it’s just nice getting out and enjoying nature, taking a walk, trying a new or different eating establishment or visiting one not enjoyed in a while. Summer days come and go quickly. And having the chance to enjoy even a part of it is always a treat.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bee enjoys flowers along a walking path during a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Enjoying a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bird Greetings in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park

24 Jul
A Redwing Blackbird sings early in the morning at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking early in Siouxland one gets the chance to encounter and hear “the little birdies” sing or scold, depending on their mood and where one might meet them. Sometimes it might be too close to their home, especially in spring or early summer when young might be around.

A bird peeks out of a hole in a dead tree at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking by trees, many trees, and looking up the last place I expect to see a bird is it popping it’s head out of a hole. More likely I expect to see a bird sitting on branches and hidden. Although some species easily give away location once you hear them singing.

A cardinal sits quietly watching passersby at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Males cardinals are easy to spot within the green foliage. Although they do tend to move about, making it difficult to even grab a fleeting photo. Just a flash of red and then one needs to continue looking.

Early morning light is a bit more directional, and during the summer months bright which creates a nice contrast with the background. Backlit subjects like trees easily stand out against the darker area behind it in shade.

Morning sunlight illuminates a tree at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The bright light almost makes it impossible to see small birds nestled in the branches, where one might mistake it for a tree limb knot and a branch silhouetted against the light. And sometimes some clever birds mimmic their surroundings, looking like a short, standing tree trunk across the water until upon closer inspection with a telephoto lens or binoculars one sees there is actually a bird there. Standing very, very still.

A Great Blue Herron stands still, almost striking a pose like a tree branch as it watches something across the small lake at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But that is the fun of early morning walks. Trying to school oneself in learning the habits of these feathered creatures and and spotting them to photograph. The exercise is not a bad idea either as one walks about Bacon Creek exercising the eyeballs and legs.

But once the sun starts climbing, it’s good to heed the advice of other woodland creatures, and head toward a shady glenn to spend the rest of the day until supper time calls. Just lounging about and avoiding the day’s heat, and then starting the process over the next day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer makes its way to a shaded glenn at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making Photo Choices in Siouxland, Sioux City

18 Jul
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even when “visitors” drop by in Siouxland for a visit, I find it a challenge to photograph them, especially when they are a little “flighty”. A butterfly visited a backyard earlier this summer and just when I saw it, it would leave, or move somewhere I couldn’t see it. I first noticed the little creature while reading and looking up for a moment.

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I retrieved a camera and waited, but the little guy didn’t show up and so continued reading. Then by chance casting a glance up and the creature reappeared. The choice is whether to photograph the creature’s shadow only, or show more of the actual little guy. And then decide how as it came changing positions which created different backgrounds.

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course what is seen is just the butterfly without any context. And sometimes that helps put things in perspective. And it all depends on one’s only aesthetics or tastes. Too little salt, not enough pepper? Maybe some cumin.

And then be happy with however the results turn out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving in Rural Siouxland, Rural Monona County

14 Jul
A turkey vulture flies above a valley floor of the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have not spent as much time in recent months driving in rural Siouxland as I would have liked. Work and the weather didn’t make such a drive very scenic. The spring remained brown and visually unappealing for a long time. But now with recent rains everything has begun greening up although a moderate/severe drought warning is still in effect for parts of Siouxland and elsewhere in Iowa. Low rain fall and not much snow during winter makes farming this year a bit tenuous.

Gravel roads and green scenery await any traveler driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A gravel road becons a traveler driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But driving the backroads in Siouxland is always nice. It’s quiet, there is no need to speed as time somewhat suspends itself as you wind around the Loess Hills scenic byway roads, enjoying the landscape and area for what is there. Nothing more, nothing less. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. Quiet, peaceful, a bit of solitude and maybe a day of contemplation.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spring flowers seen while driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Not all access points are gravel roads seen in the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Green hills await visitors while driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reflecting on Nature in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park, Sioux City

10 Jul
A fisherman looks like he’s casting into the trees as they reflect in the water at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s nice to take a walk at a local park without bundling up for a winter’s chill and see nature in its summer’s regalia. An early morning walk has night light play that occurs around the park, especially when it comes to reflections.

Not an alpine lake but a body of water at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Water reflections give a French impressionistic look to a scene at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature plays tricks wth what one sees. And a narrow point of view a person could have difficulty of telling up from down which can be fun. Mother Nature knows when to enjoy herself and let those who see it in on her optical allusions.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A man casts his line into the water as steam and the reflection of the opposite bank appear at at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Screaming in Siouxland, Ice Cream Days, Le Mars

8 Jul
Everyone enjoys ice cream during Ice Cream Days. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As summer arrives so does a little normalcy with events once again occurring in Siouxland, like Ice Cream Days in Le Mars. One of the largest companies in the small community, Wells Dairy is home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream. And every year the town celebrates and one generally gets some free ice cream to eat on a hot June day which is a pleasant way to start a weekend.

Adults and children spend some time creating bubbles along the Arts Avenue after the Ice Cream Days parade. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people came out for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Blue Bunny train winds its way through the Ice Cream Days parade route. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A woman tosses out candy to children along the Ice Cream Days parade route. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The morning starts with a parade and community residents and surrounding area line the street. Who doesn’t like a parade. It’s a perennial event with other scheduled activities and an arts avenue with a variety of vendors. Like many communities, people are enjoying what summer should be like. But the unknown involving the various virus spinoffs is still just that, unknown. And hopefully for a moment’s joy folk won’t pay a price for “returning to normal” too soon, without precautions. Fall seems like a long ways off, but the longest day of the year has already passed and the days are again shortening. Time is the only constant.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Chidlren scramble for candy in the street during the Ice Cream Days parade. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Richard Bogenrief plays patriot songs as he walks the parade route during Ice Cream Days. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people line the downtown street for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
People crowd the Arts Avenue after the Ice Cream Days Parade. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people came out for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Adults and children spend some time creating bubbles along the Arts Avenue after the Ice Cream Days parade. After a 2020 cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people came out for the Le Mars, Iowa Ice Cream Days parade Saturday, June 19, 2021, a self acclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream maker, Wells Dairy. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Look, Seek and Scamper in Siouxland, Sioux City

2 Jul
Reaching his goal, the squirrel grabs a peanut in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy visits from my backyard friends. I leave little treats for them and watch their antics as they work to acquire a snack or future meal. Sometimes they sit and eat away, other times they scurry off to bury their find and then return again for more of the same. Each time being cautious, taking no chances and hoping for another reward for their effort.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A squirrel does a little reconnaissance in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A squirrel makes his way stealthily as he does a little reconnaissance in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Making a getaway the squirrel runs an obstacle course to deter anyone following in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Keeping up With Nature in Siouxland, Sioux City

24 Jun
A squirrel runs along a fence line in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While photographing nature in Siouxland I am not always the quickest to respond to the little critters as they make their way in nature. Zigging, zagging, while I sometimes do the opposite, my brain responds slowly and my shutter finger apparently even more slowly giving me at times, “interesting” photos. Many times I think, “If the little guy had just waited a second longer before moving and running off.” But alas, I find myself with “remnants” of an image and sometimes, just peanut shells to show where my subject has just been.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Revisiting History in Siouxland, Heritage Village, Sioux Center

14 Jun
Earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

From time to time while driving about Siouxland I like to revisit places, even if it’s off-peak for any activity that might be going on. The Heritage Village in Sioux Center is one such place. A small replica village that celebrates the history of the early settlers and the agricultural aspect of the Midwest. The place has a different look during different seasons, even without the activity of its fall festival celebration.

Inside the earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Inside the earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early settlers traveled very light, or as light as they could if going west by wagon and any other means of transportation. Some of the early plains settlers lived in sod houses. The wall thick with cutouts for windows, the small abodes kept folk cool in the heat of summer and warm in winter. But with very little room to move about, it’s safe to assume most activity, weather dependent, took place outdoors. And in those days I am sure there was no lack of work to survive and hopefully to also enjoy themselves in simple pleasures, like a nice day with sunshine, light breeze and a decent temperature.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Inside the earthen mound prairie house at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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