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Enjoying the Moments in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

2 Aug

A wooden figurine stands post at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while out and about in Siouxland it occurs to me that as I visit a place the visit may be more about moments than one entire experience. While visiting the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE I enjoy my time there seeing the plants and perfect gardens that are created and the bit of exercise in fresh air as I walk about the grounds. But it’s the individual moments of different scenes I take in that sometimes strike me the most.

A light and shade scene at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Delicate appearing flowers on a plant at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Each one is distinct and a perfect subject in and of itself. It’s easy to wander and forget time for the moment enjoying these sights and limited sounds of mostly birds chirpingand going about their business uninterested in the humans who are visiting their domain.

A lone flower on a pond at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Flower adding color to a landscape at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The gardens even in summer have places that allow a visitor to linger out of the sun, and provides informational pieces to help educate us of less than cursory knowledge of garden life.

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©)

 

An informational sign help visitors learn about the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And fun pieces of art are a delight to view. Attending a number of outdoor art shows and festival viewing a vast number of sculptures and other items to put in one’s yard, mine would become more a “junk piece” refuge but here on these grounds and spaced out they add a viewing interest.

Fun art pieces dot the landscape at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Friendly suggestions for visitors who might like to create their own special place at home can be found at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even a reflection pool gave way to some mesmerizing moments watching the light play on the rocks in the pond as a light breeze moved the water about, creating an ongoing and ever changing dapples of the light dancing, fairy-like, giving the viewer a pause. Was it Tinker Bell of Peter Pan lore or a garden sprite of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

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

Moments to enjoy and give space during days of uncertainty, and possibly a new reality. But there will always be a moment, maybe two, to just pause and enjoy and think about tomorrow, tomorrow.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Summer Storms in Siouxland, Rural Sioux County

22 Jul

Summer storms are events in the Midwest in places like Siouxland that can sometimes be spectacular. When I previously worked or newspapers I would be out photographing storms or the aftermath. Not so much anymore. But the cloud formations created before, during and after can be rather spectacular. Just getting caught in hail or a downpour doesn’t quite have the allure of when I was younger.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

storms clouds along Highway 60 North near Orange City, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 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©)

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©)

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©)

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©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa

20 Jun

A pheasant runs through a field near Winnebago, NE, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Because Siouxland is comprised of areas in three different midwestern states, Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska, it is easy to drive from a “metropolitan” area into the country in a matter of minutes. And that is a nice attribute about living in such an area if you enjoy nature.

A woodduck sits on a nesting box while its mate peeks out at Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it’s nice in my opinion to get away from the urban into the rural and enjoy what nature presents. Although it is possible to find these bits of nature in an urban area, but that requires patience, waiting to see what is about and noticing the fleeting moments.

A common grackle grabs some lunch at a backyard bird feeder in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A downy woodpecker stops to a take a look around before heading to a feeder in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, March 30, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I personally enjoy watching nature, its creatures and listening to their sounds. Hearing rain falling, a gust of wind, the birds chirping early in the morning, the lack of traffic on a street and a motorcyclist enthusiast not revving an engine to an extreme rpm because they are probably deaf and can’t hear their motor anymore. An older adolescent with a toy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Northern Shoveler paddles about Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday April 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Not worried about appearances, a squirrel enjoys a snack while visiting a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

 

Ode to Fatherhood in Siouxland, Sioux City

18 Jun

A male house finch is joined by juvenile finches on a bird feeder Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I can only surmise how a parent much feel as they watch their offspring grow up, even here in Siouxland. Listening to family and friends over the years the stories can be entertaining for the most part.

And I wonder if something similar plays out in the Animal Kingdom. To which I received a treat when a backyard bird feeder came alive with a lot sound.

A male house finch surrounded by juvenile finches Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Juvenile finches looking for their father who is at a nearby bird feeder Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems a male (father) house finch was out to grab a quick bite to eat and was quickly joined by some “youngsters”, juvenile house finches. And poor old dad couldn’t get much to eat without being interrupted.

Juvenile finches surround a male house finch on a bird feeder trying to eat some lunch Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A male house finch feeds a juvenile finch some bird seed Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Another juvenile house finch joins his dad and sibling on a bird feeder Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Try as he may to escape, the juvenile finches followed him about, each looking for attention and something to eat. Even as he flew from one point to another.

A juvenile house finch squawks at a sibling after it was fed by a male house finch Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A male house finch feeds lunch to some juvenile finches Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even after I stopped watching and photographing I could hear the cacophony of bird sounds creating an interesting din of nature. Thinking this particular male house finch will be glad when his brood is grown and literally “flown the coop”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A male house finch escapes its juvenile offspring looking to be fed keeps getting its lunch interrupted by juvenile finches Monday May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A male house finch sitting on a bird feeder Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Venturing out into Siouxland, rural Sioux County

12 Jun

Venturing out in Oak Grove Park near Hawarden, Iowa Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the state of Iowa slowly opens amid the coronavirus so does areas of Siouxland. Although some areas, like parks were never really closed, it hasn’t been until recently that nature is dressing its season, such as spring with summer hot on its heels if one consider recent over the top temperatures the region has recently endured.

Making a trip back to Oak Grove Park to which I have traveled a few times, mostly during the fall. It’s a nice park, but it was nicer still to get outside and enjoy nature and take a walk, much to the chagrin of friends who know I like to walk about when photographing an area.

Venturing out in Oak Grove Park near Hawarden, Iowa Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Venturing out in Oak Grove Park near Hawarden, Iowa Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The sun this day was high overhead filling a blue sky and its light created deep shadows in areas with trees which made it fun and challenging to photograph.

Light and shade brings out details on a rail fence in Oak Grove Park near Hawarden, Iowa Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bee seeks pollen from a flowering bush in Oak Grove Park near Hawarden, Iowa Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes photographing detail is easier in harsh light helping the sculpt and shape the image so the subject matter stands out. Then again, a light and airy approach can also be effective depending on what the photographer wants a viewer to concentrate on. Perspective and mystery can make an interesting photograph. Then again maybe not.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Forested acres in Oak Grove Park near Hawarden, Iowa Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cautiously optimistic in Siouxland, Sioux City

10 Jun

A vesper sparrow cautiously looks around as it eats bird seed on the ground under a backyard bird feeder in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When “neighbors” drop by in Siouxland, most looking for a bite or snack before continuing on their way, I find some of these visitors a bit shy as they prance about the ground eating feeder remnants That fell. One recent vesper sparrow (at least that is what it looked like in a bird book) seemed to be enjoying his bounty although cautiously eyeing every step or two to see who was watching.

A vesper sparrow cautiously looks around as it eats bird seed on the ground under a backyard bird feeder in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A vesper sparrow cautiously looks around as it eats bird seed on the ground under a backyard bird feeder in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Then it would chow down some more before stopping and looking. Keeping its guard up and checking the perimeter. A sentry always on duty even if unto oneself. Probably words to live by.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A vesper sparrow cautiously looks around as it eats bird seed on the ground under a backyard bird feeder in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A vesper sparrow cautiously looks around as it eats bird seed on the ground under a backyard bird feeder in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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