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History surrounds Siouxland, Fort Omaha, Omaha, NE

21 Feb

A former departmental headquarters of historic Fort Omaha in the late 1800’s, now the Metropolitan Community College media and library center, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Siouxland region and parts surrounding Siouxland are steeped in history. As hard as it is to remember sometimes that Iowa, Nebraska, both Dakotas and other midwest and western states were at one time open territory and prairie before the land rush that brought settlers and others who “tamed the land”. Previously populated by Native American Tribes that followed the buffalo and other seasonal practices involving roaming a large swatch of land.

A sign post with history about historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A large part of the college is still open as it was during the days the fort was in use, primarily as parade grounds or muster grounds for troops located or passing through to other outposts.

History of the Omaha barracks and parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As warmer weather approaches it will be nice to be able to spend more time learning about area history as opposed to rushing back to a warm vehicle out of the cold. And seeing what other gems are about Siouxland.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Part of the parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Revisiting History around Siouxland, General Crook, Omaha, NE

15 Feb

Cabin fever is working on my wanderlust to begin exploring Siouxland area again without slipping and sliding to and from a destination. Although it’s only February and already the warm weather temps that have graced the region recently will depart a short bit as a bitter winter front and some snow moves into the area again.

The Douglas County Historical Society chronicles the history of General George Crook’s home at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently visiting the Omaha area I checked out but didn’t stop into see General Crook’s museum home at Fort Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s a glimpse into a time frame in the early frontier days as the west was being”tamed” for settlers heading in that direction. General George Crook was commandant of Fort Omaha and was responsible for patrolling and keeping safe a region that included Iowa, Nebraska, parts of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. His home is a well preserved specimen and fun to look into the past and see what life was like on the prairie for a higher ranking officer. There are a number of homes along that ridge top that housed officers of the fort while the enlisted men bunked in larger housing facilities down the hill.

General George Crook was commander at historic Fort Omaha during the early frontier days, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A plague gives a history about General George Crook’s home at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

The warmer days makes it easier to get out and about again but patience for the return of some greenery will probably be a few more weeks coming as winter lingers and Mother nature teases us about the coming spring.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A garden spot now dormant behind the General George Crook home museum at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Old Glory hangs on the front porch of the General George Crook home museum at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Summer Moment during Siouxland’s Winter, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

13 Feb

A blooming plant at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes “getting away” from the cold and thought of winter is an easy fix around Siouxland. The Laurtizen Gardens in Omaha, NE can give visitors a little break from the winter weather, although it can be challenging for a photographer.

Condensation on a window in a plant room during winter at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Walking only a few meters within a plant enclosure looking Lego exhibits the camera lens would condense and it would take a few more minutes to wait for it to clear while visiting the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Cod days outside can mean an enjoyable time indoors but one must take a bit of time if you want to capture any memories during a visit. During a recent visit to the gardens the temperature within the “greenhouse” changed in matter of meters which was interesting. Or if standing by a door leaving the room the change in temperature was immediate as was the condensation that followed. But still, such a small sacrifice to pay for seeing a “little bit o’ the green” and a chance to forget about the outdoors and think of what’s coming.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A steamy room keeps plants healthy in the winter months seen during a Lego Exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning History in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

11 Feb

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I don’t think I will ever tire of learning about history. And more importantly history that occurs here in Siouxland. Sometimes it does take a little effort to seek it out and spend some time learning, but I always think in the end it’s time well spent.

The clan sculpture garden in Winnebago, NE gives a visitor a glimpse of the Winnebago Tribe what originates and still resides in Wisconsin but because of abuse at the ends of the federal government “liberating” lands for the movement of white settlers, part of the tribe was relocated to Nebraska.

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The sculpture garden has one piece for each clan and plaques that explain what is represented and representative of each.

in Winnebago, Nebraska Friday June 22, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is a bit of a hidden gem but worth the time to stop and learn and appreciate. History never lies, it’s just how its told by individuals that spin it to put forth their own “truth” or shades there of about it. Other agendas by people who generally do not want the truth known, or prefer to skirt because of interests that belie what is real and what becomes myth.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

in Winnebago, Nebraska Friday June 22, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Robins, a Hopeful Spring Sign in Siouxland, Omaha, NE

9 Feb

Robins looking for food and staying warm on a cool day at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

I am always happy to see robins flitting about and gathering this time of year around Siouxland. It makes me feel that spring is much closer than it seems. Weather folk predicting more snow and maybe a mixture in the coming days. And while I have not seen any of these gems in the Siouxland region proper, as Omaha is generally 10-15 degrees warmer, I just think they are taking a brief respite before continuing their journey north.

Robins looking for food and staying warm on a cool day at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Robins looking for food and staying warm on a cool day at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

These little guys didn’t want me coming anywhere near them as they scavenged among the leaves looking for morsels. They looked plump, but am guess they just had on their “down” jacket as the temperatures still hover below and just barely above freezing. But soon as the prognosticating rodent made his call about the spring and the weather recently, this year feels like it can’t come soon enough.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Robins looking for food and staying warm on a cool day at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Light in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

22 Jan

Photography is always dependent on light. How much, its color and quality depends on the photographer. Understanding what one wants and what is needed is a choice. I like light. A lot of it or little of it. Depending on the subject matter and the situation in which I am photographing. Traveling around Siouxland I do a lot of photography in natural or available light. But sometimes when photographing I plan ahead and see the need to include additional or supplemental light. I don’t always carry a flash, but it does come in handy.

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Depending on how one wants to portray a subject within an image supplemental light can enhance the subject. Helping define it even more. And therein lies the choice. How much light.

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I sometimes believe that old adage that less is more. Direct flash adds light to a subject, but can also take away the impact one might be trying to create. It also makes the subject look flat. Photographing sunsets with a subject can be enhanced by adding light. So instead of a silhouette, one creates an image that maybe has a bit more drama or interest.

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Much like the artist who created and sculpted the clan members in the Statue Garden in Winnebago, NE, light can be used to sculpt the the statues thereby giving them more of a dimensional shape. It also allows the sunset to create more an intense color palette for the background that will hopefully enhance the image rather than take away from it. Previously when I worked for daily newspapers I used flash a lot more than I do now. A lot of times its use was adding fill light to subjects so they could be clearly seen. But my preference was always for using the light to create an image that I liked and that would enhance the subject, living or not, and make it more memorable for the reader and viewer of an article thereby hoping for a lasting impression so the reader and viewer would both enjoy and remember the story that the photograph accompanied.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Authorial History in Siouxland, Elmwood, NE

20 Jan

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like serendipity when it’s a pleasant, unexpected encounter. During December of last year I rode along with a friend who was visiting some traveling buddies to make plans for more travel this year. After they finished hashing out their future endeavors his friends told us about a small museum in Elmwood, NE. It’s always fascinating to find authors who hailed from small towns and became prolific writers. Even if that happened in another century. The home of Bess Streeter Aldrich, a writer whose career spanned 40 plus years and author of numerous short stories and novels, was decked out in Christmas attire, befitting the time of year and added an extra element to the home.

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Interesting enough, as is true of many of these museum/home tours decorated for the season, each room had a decorated Christmas tree. And each tree was decorated for a particular short story that Street Aldrich had written during her lifetime. With informational cards explaining the short story’s background it made for an interesting endeavor on the part of those decorating the trees.

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Outside the temperature hovered around 10 degrees without wind chill, and there was a wind blowing. So another trip to visit the community itself will be a summer endeavor with warmer temperatures and a chance to walk about. But it was a nice glimpse of this person’s life, how she herself persevered through difficult times, including the country’s depression era and managed to sustain herself and her community, much like the character in Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” cinema creation. I find history fascinating and even more so when there is a wonderful back story to a tale that has a happy ending.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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