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History and Religion in Siouxland, German City Church, Holly Springs

12 Jul

Locals have long worshipped at the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While not an ardent student of history, I do enjoy it and learning about places nearby where I live regionally in Siouxland. Iowa like many other midwestern states was settled by pioneers beginning in the 1800’s. Some folk settled as early as the 1830’s while others came in the 1850’s and later. The German City Church near a now small community of Holly Springs has been in service since the 1880’s. I have never attended a service or been around the church when it was open. But it is nicely maintained and cared for by its parishioners and is situated on a hilltop with a view of the surrounding valley around it.

A gravel road leads into the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the summer months the trees give the church solitude and allows one silence but for the birds to ponder those who settled the area a century or more ago and wonder about their life and the changes that have taken place since it was first built.

The historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding history and then spending the time to learn about it is important. All too often it seems the human race keeps repeating the same sins over and over, never learning from those who came before or teaching those who will follow that by the grace of God and a little bit of love and understanding, can go a long way in making the world a better place.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A scenic day with clouds at the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Summer’s Day in Siouxland, Rural Monona County, Iowa

10 Jul

Nature’s display of rolling hills and clouds along a gravel backroad in rural Monona County, Iowa near Castana, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days in Siouxland are that slow and easy living phrase made famous by George Gershwin’s “Summertime“, the sentiment of the lyrics and mood. There are days when a drive in the country allows one to get away from all the noise created by politicians, idiots and other folk one would rather not hear for a while. I mostly listen to jazz when driving about, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Dave Brubeck Quartet and Miles Davis. Some more modern artists as well.

A swan drifts in a pond along a gravel backroad in rural Monona County, Iowa near Castana, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I let my mind drift while just looking for images or potential images. There are some back roads I take into the Loess Hills region time and again and run across familiar scenes. Different day, time of year, time of day, all can make a difference with what one sees. And sometimes not.

Two weathered out buildings of a former homestead along a gravel backroad in rural Monona County, Iowa near Castana, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some scenes remain the same, which is nice in that there is no development, no summer homes or subdivision. The land is still farm land and the views are those views seen by folk possibly over a couple of centuries. Which in the early days of life on this continent the land was most likely traversed by Native Americans until the Europeans arrived and then pushed west looking for space and opportunity they didn’t find from whence they came. Philosophizing beyond what transpired is best done by those politicians and others who while maybe sincere, also seem to be looking for points and admirers to add to their stable of support.

So some jazz, maybe some quiet to hear the birds sing their own acapella tunes along with the wind rustling tall grass or corn stalk leaves and trees. Unwind, meditate and enjoy, continued stress does no one much good.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former farm house along a gravel backroad in rural Monona County, Iowa near Castana, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a Stroll in Siouxland, Trolls included, Oakland NE

8 Jul

A little troll acknowledges an entrance to a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes it is surprising was pops up when traveling about Siouxland. A friend from the local camera club told me about this trail in the small community of Oakland, NE. The No Toll Troll Stroll itself has seen better days, but is still a fun little adventure outdoors and a chance to laugh at the short trail creation local residents created for a little amusement. A short walk through the woods and over some bridges, but no grandmother in sight. The Troll’s Stroll abuts another park that is a bit more clear cut maybe adding to the drama as one “enters” the forest. Lions, tigers and bears? No. But little people that bid one welcome.

A local park in Oakland, NE near the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A little troll and friend sits at the base of a tree along a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a hot, muggy  day the short walk might feel a little overbearing, but still pleasant even if the path is a little worn over the years. I am not certain about its origins, but stopping to ask someone in town and a smile comes to their face and they immediately know what you are looking for with quick directions.

A tree-lined path way in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A little troll sits at the base of a tree along a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was easy to walk past these little fellows as all are places near the base of trees, except for one at the end of the trail, which might be a good clue that the adventure is over and there is no more to the stroll.

A troll hangs from a tree along a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wooden bridge crosses a small stream in a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A few additional wooden bridges will take one to another path, much less traveled these days and a bit more overgrown. But the birds were chirping and a light breeze didn’t make finding the creatures too intimidating. And just in case one might feel a little claustrophobic, one only had to look up and realize, that Oz was not too far away.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A sunny blue sky greets visitors overhead along a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Revisiting Calliope Village in Siouxland, Hawarden

6 Jul

As I drive about Siouxland I have certain haunts I like to revisit if I am in the area, or out photographing with a friend to introduce them to a place and to also see how how I can create new or different images than previously done. The Calliope Village is one such place I like to revisit again and again. Memorial Day and Labor Day the village is open and people show up to check out the local history and listen to some entertainment if there is a local string band playing. But this year the village will not be hosting any events like many places. And to many organizations like the Hawarden Historical Society they miss that opportunity to showcase their local pride and joy and to share with people something of a community’s past they themselves enjoy and hope others will as well.

Taking a walk around the Calliope Village in Hawarden, Iowa on a spring day Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So this particular day I work with some “art filters” that are part of an Olympus OMD E M1 II camera to see how I can change up what I photograph. This particular filter reminds me of my time photographing with a 4X5 view camera and using the tilts and swings to help focus a viewer’s attention on certain aspects of an image. When I previously photographed with Fujifilm’s XT-1 and 2 I used a similar filter to achieve a “look” that is similar to the Olympus’ filter.

Sometimes they can be a bit kitschy but if it works for me, why not. And as I tell students who take some photography courses I teach at a local community college, there are times when less is more.

Taking a walk around the Calliope Village in Hawarden, Iowa on a spring day Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One wants the viewer to take in a scene and wonder a bit about it sometimes. Other times you want an image to hit them over the head and get the message right away. Journalism can be like that, but journalism can also portray subject matter in a way to get people to slow down and ponder.

Taking a walk around the Calliope Village in Hawarden, Iowa on a spring day Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And maybe some people who see the photographs and are able will stop by and visit the place you share and take the time to see a bit of local history and understand what life was like a couple centuries ago and read short synopses and stories about those who originally settled the area. And it’s the latter I hope for sometimes for people to find and enjoy those gems in their own backyard.

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Taking a walk around the Calliope Village in Hawarden, Iowa on a spring day Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Outdoors in Siouxland, Decatur, NE

4 Jul

Enjoying a day of fishing in the Missouri River in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Spending a day out on the water of the Missouri River in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s been nice in Siouxland to be able to get out a bit and see some of the area during the spring months although there is some adjusting to the new normal for most people. On a recent trip to Decatur, NE folk were outside getting fresh air and enjoying summer activities.

A city camping park is located next to the Missouri River in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Up close and personal camping next to the Missouri River on the iowa side across from the community of Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A city park in the community is located along the Missouri River and people can camp in the park and enjoy some modern amenities while others took the more rustic route with just a tent. Summer, when the living is easy and life is a bit slower. With the advent of the coronavirus life has indeed been much slower. But it can still be enjoyed depending on one’s approach while we all wait for some return to normalcy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A couple finds an isolated place to camp across the Missouri River from Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bridge connects Iowa and Nebraska over the Missouri River seen from Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Color and B&W, Adams Homestead

2 Jul

Meadow area at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, June 3, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I visit a place often in Siouxland, like the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, I wonder to myself how I can change up how I see which invariably are the same scenes, again and again. I like visiting the homestead, it’s just a nice place to take a walk. And depending on the time of year and the weather, the scenes never really look the same. Although others might argue differently.

Spring at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, May 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Choosing to photograph one time in color, and another time in black and white helps me keep a fresh perspective as I take a walk. And then hope the weather cooperates in giving me a little something extra.

Spring at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, May 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is always about the journey and not the destination, but that said, ending up with varying results from a walk about is nice as well. I might not hang all of these images on a wall, but it gives me pause as I wonder what next time I might try to create another image.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A summer’s day at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, June 3, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying an Old Building in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

30 Jun

Older building in Winnebago, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When driving about in Siouxland I am always looking for “used” buildings, or those which have seen better days. Never to buy, but photograph. While in large cities the big shiny glass, steel and concrete buildings are a sight to behold, I like the ones found in smaller communities that over the years have only added to their character.

A thistle plant grows in front of an older building in Winnebago, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

What I see could be described as an artistic interpretation, but I just the like the “character” of the structure, the history it holds that I will never know, and for the most part a simple, functional design.

A doorway into an older building in Winnebago, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Older building in Winnebago, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I’m not detailing  structures in the Siouxland area for any purpose other than my own enjoyment and how I might present it. I see details, large and small, never quite capturing the whole but finding the sums of the parts to be more interesting. But again, every interpretation is open to discussion and is always in the eye of beholder. And a little bit of history of another era.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Older building in Winnebago, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even the Birdies in Siouxland like a Cool Day, Decatur, NE

28 Jun

After living a few years in the state or Louisiana and eventually returning to the Midwest after a couple more stops during my work career I can say I am not a big fan of hot summer days and the humidity that comes with it.

A robin sits on a fence in a park on a hot day in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While visiting Decatur, NE recently walking in the town’s park along the Missouri River I spied a robin sitting on a fence post as I approached a path and noticed its reluctance in taking flight. I guessed that even birds don’t always enjoy hot, muggy days and so I skirted the path a bit so as not to disturb the bird and then watched as it also seemed to relish a fresh breeze blowing, a short lived reprieve from the hot day. But sometimes any small favors are something to savor.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A robin sits still on a fence and enjoys the breeze on a hot day in a park in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Playing with Light and Polarizing filters in Siouxland, Le Mars

26 Jun

Creating a heavy effect while using a polarizer on a sunny day in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, June 13, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dialing down the effect of a polarizer on a sunny day in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, June 13, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Depending on who one talks with or reads and one’s own personal preference, the use of filters can be a touchy subject. Landscape photographers use neutral density filters and polarizers to enhance the scenes they photograph. While traversing about Siouxland on bright sunny days, I personally like using a polarizer to enhance my skies. But then how much an effect is too much. Sometimes being over the top can add to an image if that is what the photographer desires while at other times less is more.

I don’t think all will agree on any kind of like mindedness with this topic and that’s okay. The saying variety is the spice of life, and if you don’t like the soup, don’t eat it, but then, don’t spoil it for others who do.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Not yet the Garden Party in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

24 Jun

Timed reservations are required to visit the now reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life in Siouxland as elsewhere is beginning to return to some kind of normal. And for those folk I encountered visiting the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE recently, most don’t mind the slow reopening. The gardens now allow patrons and visitors to walk the grounds although indoor exhibits and some other areas are still sequestered and people are advised to wear masks, although it’s not necessary. And one must make reservations ahead of time to enter at a specified date and time.

Signs ask visitors and patrons to respect others space at the newly reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Most visitors are wearing face masks at the reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it was nice to get out and enjoy the beauty of the gardens. Entry begins at 11 am and during the summer months it’s not an ideal time for photographing outdoor subjects due to the harsher light at that time, unless one wants to create light and shadow photographs. Previously the gardens opened around 9 am, when the summer light is a little more directional and not yet so harsh.

Visitors and patrons can once again see the blooming spectacle at the recently opened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shady paths are always a welcome sight on a hot day at the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So it’s nice to be able to walk a shaded path and take a break from the sun overhead as the day also heats up. Living in the Midwest doesn’t mean one becomes used to heat and humidity, one just learns to mitigate the effects if possible.

Signage informs visitors and patrons about ongoing projects at the recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors and patrons enjoy a day out at the recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the timed entries there were not too many folk wandering about the paths, and those who were put masks on when they encountered others along the way. And all remarked how nice it was to be able to enjoy the gardens again, closed since mid March, and spend some time just enjoying the beauty and quiet.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

People enjoy a day out at the recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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