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Enjoying the Fall Season in Siouxland, Lewis and Clark State Park, Onawa

21 Oct
The look of fall at Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Smoke from the western states wildfires has begun to clear in the Siouxland area and fall color pops a bit more while taking photographs. I like others am getting out enjoying it while it lasts. One never knows when a heavy rain and wind storm will come through depositing shimmering gold leaves into a pile on the ground. Where all that glitters turns to a rust color of dried and decaying leaves.

The look of fall at Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The look of fall at Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Lewis and Clark State Park offers some nice color and with clearer skies the leaves fairly sparkled in the sunlight. Weather prognosticators are calling for colder temperatures coming to the area and some strong winds as the temps begin to drop. Not good sign for folk wanting to enjoy a few fall days of leaf peeping. Some have predicted a rain/snow shower forecast for the coming days. too soon for such a wacky year by my estimation.

So enjoying the days now is important as tomorrow brings something different.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The look of fall at Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Walk in Siouxland, Preparation Canyon State Forest, Rural Monona County

11 Oct
A couple takes a selfie along a trail in Preparation Canyon State Forest enjoying the changing colors of fall leaves in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall in Siouxland, like elsewhere, is just a nice time to get out and enjoy nature and what’s available. Like many places this year, the colors are a bit muted with western wildfire smoke and haze and from a drought that still continues for western Iowa as rainfall is almost 10 inches shy of normal according to some meteorologists.

A couple finish their hike along a trail in Preparation Canyon State Forest enjoying the changing colors of fall leaves in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A couple check out the history from an information display about Preparation Canyon State Forest enjoying the changing colors of fall leaves in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Preparation Canyon State Forest is a nice place to visit and hike as trails through the woodlands/prairie area. The trails are fairly easy to navigate but become narrow in places so care should be taken. I always enjoy the view from an observation deck on those days I don’t feel like a taking a walk. I had been cruising about the Loess Hills area looking for what fall color I could find. Most of it in yellows and lighter shades of green. Without the extra moisture and no profound cold snap yet, although there have been some cool nights, colors may not be forthcoming this year.

A man walks his dog along a trail at Preparation Canyon State Forest enjoying the changing colors of fall leaves in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two men check out Preparation Canyon State Forest while enjoying the changing colors of fall leaves in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With possibly some cooler days ahead, and maybe rain, the time for enjoying the changing leaves on trees could be short lived. With such a wacky year already, I guess fall could be just as wacky. I was kind of hoping though that it might be a long, slow one to give folk time to enjoy some more outdoor time before the blast of winter arrives and keeping folk indoors.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Little bit of Sweden in Siouxland, Oakland, NE

20 Aug

Historically populated by immigrants from Sweden who settled the area in and around Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everyone comes from somewhere, even the people of Siouxland. The region is a bit of a European melting pot. I haven’t spent a lot of time exploring the smaller communities of Nebraska but finding some interesting places and people need to do a little more exploration.

Graduating seniors photos are displayed in the downtown area of Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Each community has its own charm and history. But the community itself is quaint and only requires a short walk about to see it the downtown area and some of the surrounding neighborhoods.

A colorfully painted scene on a building in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A colorfully painted scene on a building in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As fall gets closer it will hopefully become a little cooler and more inducement to walk about on a bright sunny day. And maybe other aspects of life will become a little safer as well for those wanting to explore a bit.

A posted sign in a grassy area in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Older buildings are getting some makeovers in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun and nice to “see” what’s around the corner or up the road a bit. I do miss popping into small cafes for lunch or coffee, preferring these days to carry a thermos and snack, which doesn’t replace the sometimes homemade pies and other goodies one might find at a cafe and a chance to chat with the folk there and learn a bit more about their community.

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A boarding house in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Curbside Food to go in Siouxland, Rural Cherokee County

18 Aug

A turkey vulture swoops in to join some friends in a roadside meal in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The advent of the coronavirus and its ancillary effects on people’s lives in Siouxland and elsewhere has been somewhat profound and probably the full extent will not be known until the virus is under control. People’s lives have changed including eating habits. Folk used to go out for meals but now many are dialing and asking for delivery or doing a pickup themselves. This kind of behavior I believe has been ongoing for years if not decades or longer in the animal world.

A turkey vulture looks up the roadway before feasting on some road kill in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Raptors, especially turkey vultures, have been enjoying “curbside meals” for as long as I have seen them. Sometimes I have to be cautious driving in the country because these birds are reluctant to leave their meal once they found it alongside the roadway and I don’t want them flying up and into my vehicle when I pass by. These creatures would probably turn their heads and wonder why these two-legged creatures haven’t been doing this previously.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Turkey vultures find their meal interrupted as a car approaches their road kill dinner in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Summer Day’s Drive in Siouxland, rural Cherokee County

8 Aug

A perfect Iowa summer’s day in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like driving about in the summer in Siouxland on back country roads. I don’t have to drive fast and can just enjoy the scenery. Growing up on a farm I sometimes think that prejudiced me to like being in the country rather than in the city. I am not exactly “Green Acres” material and those who understand will get the gist. Wide open spaces, a slow pace driving gravel roads and enjoying the a summer’s breeze, provided that the temperature isn’t in the 90’s and the humidity above 75%. Without the radio on, or maybe some low key jazz, my mind wanders and ideas come and go as I make my way in various places in this part of Iowa. When I was younger, I know I was in a hurry. Now, I want to enjoy the moment, hopefully a nice moment, and get to what needs being done in good time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A perfect Iowa summer’s day in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Americana Moment in Siouxland, Rural Cherokee County

30 Jul

An old, unused railroad trestle at the Pearse Area in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun to find a moment in life that seems to be pure Americana, especially in rural America, even in Siouxland. Possibly reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting. Although in this day and age that viewpoint may seem skewed to a particular demographic. But summertime is essentially kids’ time. Before the vagaries of adulthood creep into sight and childhood fun time has to be put aside.

A perfect Iowa summer’s day for some teenage boys as they jump from an old railroad trestle into the Little Sioux River in rural Cherokee County near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. What some might consider a quintessential slice of rural Americana and a right of passage hanging out at a favorite swimming hole. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Idyllic may be another way of looking at it. I was surprised and happy while out roaming some backroads in Cherokee County one day and I had come across this bridge and thought it might create a nice image. Then by chance driving across the the Little Sioux River I spied from some distance a group of boys up on the old trestle. Sometimes God smiles on you and the kids hung out long enough for me to swap lenses and from a short zoom to a telephoto. The railroad trestle was still some 2-3 football fields away, but made it possible to shoot a little tighter and tell a story many children in many places have experienced.

A perfect Iowa summer’s day for some teenage boys as they jump from an old railroad trestle into the Little Sioux River in rural Cherokee County near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. What some might consider a quintessential slice of rural Americana and a right of passage hanging out at a favorite swimming hole. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not all of the boys jumped into the water, but those that did spaced themselves out and hung around while the others behind them dropped into the water, creating their own living quintessential slice of Americana that maybe someday their own children may experience growing up in a rural place, some call heaven, others not so much. These boys are enjoying their summer, not thinking about tomorrow or next week or what school life might look like this year. Just enjoying a summer’s day and being kids.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A perfect Iowa summer’s day for some teenage boys as they jump from an old railroad trestle into the Little Sioux River in rural Cherokee County near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. What some might consider a quintessential slice of rural Americana and a right of passage hanging out at a favorite swimming hole. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Steady Steed in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

28 Jul

A horse chases away flies on a humid summer’s day in a field in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Monday, July 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days in Siouxland, like other places, are better than others. It all depends on the story. A horse standing at the top of a hill pawing the ground, bobbing its head as though it were Pegasus ready to leap skyward and fly to the heavens. But upon closer inspection, the poor beast is standing in a meadow besieged by flies and so it prances about trying to chase the little buggers away so it can have a few moments of peace. Paul Harvey said a lot when he used it now oft quoted tagline, “….the rest of the story.”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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©)

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©)

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