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Enjoying the Light in Siouxland, Onawa

1 Dec

Sometimes when out taking photographs in Siouxland I just enjoy watching the light and the effect it has on an area or subject. Time of day can play a part and whether it is a clear or cloudy day. Nice light is just nice light.

The moon rises above houses along the lake at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most times I find myself in the wrong place when this light happens. It is fleeting. maybe 10-15 minutes early morning and in the evening as the sun awakens the day and leaves for the night. Sometimes I get lucky and am near something that embraces the magical light which makes it a magical subject. But not often, so I enjoy the light. Whether I was lucky and was able to make a nice photograph, the jury is still out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sun sun sets and light reflects in a body of water near the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History Comes Alive in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park, Nebraska

19 Nov

Visitors head into Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park for July 4 festivities at Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The history of Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park at Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This summer I spent part of a day reliving history at a Nebraska Historical Park in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson, which according to one living history participant and re-enactor, was the largest fort in the U.S. during its days of use on what was then the frontier.

I find attending such places and events informative and fun. As well as fascinating because of the people who help make history come alive for us regular folk who get the chance to understand a bit more about those folk who came before us. While those volunteering their time to portray actors can’t provide all the answers, they can help people appreciate what history says about a place and possibly give us direction where to find more information about a place’s history.

Visitors assemble for a program about the creation of the United States and a firing demonstration of muskets and canon as each state’s name is read and when it entered the Union during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of the display and honoring of territories becoming states included musket and canon firing salutes during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of the display and honoring of territories becoming states included musket and canon firing salutes during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And sometimes the people who portray historical characters are themselves rascals who give a nice dimensional look to an era we can only read about now.

 

Blacksmith Tom speaks with visitors during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Two “regimental officers” talk about life at the fort in early frontier days during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors check out the Trading Post cabin outside of the Fort during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photographing the Details during a Siouxland Outing

17 Nov

A dilapidated wagon sits in a field in the Loess Hills of northwest Iowa near Moorhead, Iowa Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. T(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out and about driving around the Siouxland region, I enjoy the broad brushstrokes of landscapes and scenes. But sometimes one must look at the details of such a scene to also enjoy what is there and record. Seeing what is front of oneself is sometimes an acquired skill. To isolate visually in one’s mind then translate that into a visual image takes patience and practice. I have had lots of practice and am still practicing.

A detail image of wagon wheels during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But that’s the joy of wandering about and challenging oneself to really see what is in front of yourself. Sometimes one gets lucky. Other times, maybe not. But what’s a better way to spend a day that out taking photographs.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

looking for designs and details during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Ho Ho Ho Siouxland, It’s almost Christmas, and Winter in Already Here, Clay County Fair

9 Nov

at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Well, Christmas is more than a month away, with Halloween barely behind us and Thanksgiving meals not yet begun cooking in the oven. But winter is definitely here. Unseasonable temperatures in the 20 and 30’s. Weather folk saying the Siouxland area is 20 degrees below a “normal” fall day for this time of year.

A model train display at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

At the Clay County Fair in Spencer there is a large model train exhibit with working tracks. Various scenes and seasons are depicted within the display and they are set within different types of communities.

at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One exhibit I enjoy the most is the Christmas season display at the fair. Lights twinkling, a Santa whose sleigh glides over a small town bringing gifts, all seen at a county fair where some days the temperatures are in the 80’s along with the humidity and the pleasant thought of changing seasons yet to come. But somehow those season didn’t materialize this year as winter stretched into a very short spring, then summer and soaring temps appeared and now it seems that fall was a brief one-week period with temperatures overnight next week to dip into the teens. Snow has already dusted the area around Siouxland. Nothing like the heavy storms out west in the mountain regions, but still, a fleeting fall passed in the blink of an eye this year.

at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like the Christmas season and the music that always seems to get short shrift being played on the radio. Most times people are a bit kinder but no less harried as they prepare for the holidays, gift shopping, plans to visit relatives and putting up decorations. As well as taking some time to think about what Christmas should mean and taking a break to just enjoy the moment and holiday cheer and friends. But with winter already here, it may seem like a very long season this year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding the Rustic in Siouxland, Rural Iowa

1 Nov

A weathered barn near Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving around the Siouxland area that I live in, there are many “rustic” scenes one can find without much effort. Weathered barns are a bit of a staple in rural Iowa. But over the course of the years these barns have begun to diminish as farmers put up more durable buildings that are made of metal. And as the “family farms” that dotted the rural landscape in Iowa for decades get swept up into ever larger conglomerations if just for survival or bought by corporations, these scenes will probably disappear entirely. Many I have seen over the years and able to revisit have fallen into disrepair. And the need for such buildings has disappeared as well as small farms or farms in general no longer have the variety of livestock (milk cows, pigs, chickens, some steers, etc.) there is no need. Another American icon that will eventually fade into memory for those who can remember such scenes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Tractor parked near Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Changing Seasons in Siouxland, rural Monona County

30 Oct

Colors are appearing in Monona County, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall colors this year have been a bit spotty. Appearing here and there, just getting started and making one wonder if the colors will mature. Wet weather and heavy winds recently makes me think I am lucky if I find a nice patch of woods to share its beauty as I hunt around the Loess Hills in Monona County and other places.

Fall colors near Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And sadly, as the light appears later in the morning my personal engine doesn’t rev up as quickly until I down a couple cups of coffee and then bundle up against 35 degree temperature to look for the changing scenery and the fact that soon Christmas music will be heard over the radio airwaves and in stores. I can wait for the weather that comes with that change in season and hope to enjoy one or two, maybe three more weeks of fall and the spectacular display that Mother Nature can on occasion share.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fall colors near Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Fall in Siouxland, Fields of Fun in Sioux Center

12 Oct

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall arrived in Siouxland recently with cooler temperatures and rainy weather. The former is a nice change of pace from recent 80’s and 90’s and high humidity, but the rain could wait a while. For some folk though it hasn’t “dampened” there enthusiasm for fall celebrations of various harvests and Halloween. Fields of Fun is a destination stop near Sioux Center started recently after a former fall place, Pumpkinland, ceased to exist. And the people behind the new venture wanted to continue the spirit families experienced at the former.

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fields of Fun is located on a working farm. There are some animals for children to see and possibly engage with as well as the chance to pick one’s own pumpkin and “get lost” in a cornfield maze.

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visitors are encourage to pick up maps before entering the maze, but sometimes people can be obstinate, and eventually lost. A nice thing for people living locally is a bike trail that passes by the farm and many cold ride their bikes to enjoy a day of exercise and seeing what is there. Although carrying home pumpkins, gourds and other baked or canned goods could prove challenging.

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Halloween is approaching fast. And it’s nice to get out and enjoy a fun respite from the real world and see a little “country”, even if it’s only minutes outside of town and mostly viewing the tops of cornstalks. But it’s a good place to start.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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