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“Winter Dressing” in SIouxland and Rural Nebraska, Winnebago, NE

12 Apr
Hoarfrost decorates a small wooded area in the countryside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mother Nature decorated Siouxland and rural Nebraska recently with remnants of this year’s winter’s season, as some low lying fog areas created that winter wonderland look with hoarfrost decorating the surrounding countryside. This kind of frost never seems to last long. That short shelf life between freezing and sunshine allows the ethereal effect to disappear quickly. Letting one wonder if it was a dream or actually real. Something William Shakespeare make have written about in one of his plays that also took place in the countryside.

Hoarfrost decorates a hillside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese take off from a pond surrounded by hoarfrost decorating the countryside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hoarfrost decorates a grass stem seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it challenging in photographing in this type of environment. One needs enough contrast to bring out the delicate details of the frost, especially if one is attempting macro photography. Blue skies are ideal because of the contrast, but that means the frost will be disappearing soon as the temperatures begin to rise and the sunshine helps the frost “disappear”.

Hoarfrost decorates a roadside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hoarfrost decorates a fence line in the countryside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I drove to this area to look about I that particular day I drove through some dense fog. But the temperature there was not cool enough to create the frost I found in rural Nebraska. And just miles apart. Sometimes one gets lucky and gets to witness Mother Nature in action. The hoarfrost being a kind of benign action as opposed to seeing storms and the destruction sometimes wrought after those have ended. This day though, I just wished I had brought a thermos of coffee with me as the sun rose higher in the sky and the landscape changed before the viewer’s eyes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Hoarfrost decorates a field seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A frosty sight along Omaha Creek outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Early Morning Light in Siouxland, rural Nebraska, Winnebago, NE

17 Dec
A song sparrow sits in a bush eyeing a visitor to a meadow on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Deep shadows are formed as the sun streaks across a yet to be harvested field on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So I will wait another year here in Siouxland before enjoying the early morning jaunts looking for light traipsing through the rural landscape in and around Siouxland. Yes, there will be early morning light this winter, but it will be colder, and maybe less inviting without the warm fall colors adding to the scene. White is just that, white. Although there entails a challenge of maybe using trees and other object as a graphic element to create an image.

Sunlight lights up drying meadow grass on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wood ducks sit on a log in a pond on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sunlight lights up a yet to be harvested field and grain bins on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With early light this time of year most critters don’t seem to rouse to forage until the light is up along with warming up the temperature. I don’t blame them. Personally, staying under the covers in bed is a preferred winter’s morning destination for me, but that doesn’t actually accomplish the objective of photographing nature. Such a conundrum. But I will be patient and see what opportunities await this winter and see how much walking through the “tundra” I will do depending on that day’s temperature and the wind. Maybe I just need to bring a thermos of coffee along for those mornings out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Bison graze in a field on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Deep shadows are formed in yet to be harvested fields on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting History in Siouxland, Adams House Museum, Ponca, NE

5 Dec
A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Through one of the photography classes I teach at a local community college I look for destinations for the class to visit near and far within Siouxland. Besides possibly introducing the students to places locally they might not have visited before, it also puts their photographic skills to test from composition to using ISO and white balance settings to possibly trying slow shutter speeds or dragging the shutter. My reasoning is that if they are on vacation someplace, they shouldn’t be afraid of pulling out the camera and using it to document their trip or to make awe inspiring imagery to share later with family and friends.

Volunteer Ken Johnson talks about the history of the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Adams House Museum is a brick home built in the early 1880’s by a local druggist named E.D. Ayers according to a printed handout presented by the museum. Volunteer Ken Johnson gave the class a quick history lesson about the house and some of the furnishings, not all of which are original but mostly period pieces to the early family that lived there.

In the early 1900’s a local farmer and his wife, Sam and Della Adams, purchased the home, and it was noted in the information handed out that only wealthier folk in those days could afford to build or purchase a brick home.

A stairwell leads to the upstairs while a doorway at left goes into a sitting parlor at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look at an earlier century of a formal sitting parlor at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Remnants of history on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always interesting to walk through a home museum. To see what appliances and other types of utensils were used during a particular time period one to two centuries ago. Various photographs about the museum showed snippets of history about the area and what it looked like before really being settled. Photographs showing the early days of a community are so totally different than what one sees today. Which is only natural, considering there are so many more folk living these days, and living longer.

A number of items within the museum were donated by area families, passed down through the generations are now on display for others to consider its place in history and a bit of reminder that actual people inhabited this house and others in the area helping create what it has become.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A small hallway seen at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photo of the Ponca Chiefs delegation on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A historical document signed in 1896 on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A historical document signed in 1896 on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Adams House Museum, a historical place documenting life in an earlier century seen in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Wayne, NE

1 Dec
While known for the Wayne Chicken Show, this sculpted art piece is not connected to that venture, seen downtown in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when it’s doable, I just like to get in my vehicle and drive about Siouxland. Earlier this year I made a short day trip into Nebraska and stopped at a few small towns along the way. One of these places was Wayne, NE. It has a population a little over 5,500 via some 2019 online information.

Downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Agriculture still plays an important part in small communities like Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many times when I come upon a place it is without research as I am mostly looking for photographic opportunities plus just seeing what is in the Siouxland region. And many times I find that I will venture back in the future to explore something specific about a particular community just as a historical museum or former residence and maybe even utilize a trip to it for a class I teach through a local community college. And it’s just fun to see what is there, knowing well in advance that my day trip will probably not coincide with any festival or event that might take place in a community as I arrive mid-week, an unlikely time period for places to host community celebrations of any kind.

Buildings dating to another century in downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Art decorating a building and the downtown sidewalk in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is though a particular summer time event I have never attended in Wayne and want to at some point which is the Chicken Show. It began in the early 1980’s as part of a push by the local arts community to draw attention to itself and the community as a whole. Online information says chickens as a theme was utilized for the possible endless kinds of humor that might evolve, the rural location of Wayne, and the fact that there might also be endless art opportunities involving the chicken.

And from what I hear the show continues today in as strong a fashion as ever to delight of those residents of that community.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former railroad depot now a pizza joint in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Main street in downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Uehling, NE

25 Nov
Crossroads in downtown Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This past spring and summer I took some time to visit a few small communities in Siouxland that I had not stopped in before to just check them out and see what was there. My trips generally take place during the week and never seem to coincide with any events, which generally happen on weekends or evenings. Uehling, NE was one of the places I came across on a day trip. Like so many others its population is a little over 200 people but has some nice buildings maintained with a few flourishes about town for its appearance.

A wall mount dedicated to the anniversary of the community’s founding on a downtown store in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mural heading into empty space seen in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Founded in the early 1900’s it was also a short-lived railroad destination as train tracks headed west expanding the reach of a young nation. And like so many of those smaller communities it seemed to prosper early on then settled in as the train route continued west and larger communities were founded in other places that also because seats of local county and state government.

But even in passing it’s fun to see a small community still holding its own over 100 years later. A place people call home and visitors can only wonder about its part in creating history as they pass through.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A visitor might assume the community was named after Theodore Uehling seen in in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A country road heads off into the distance leaving Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Cool Misty Morning in Siouxland, rural Nebraska, Winnebago, NE

23 Nov
A misty fall morning in rural Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Monday Oct. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some times the prospect of waking up early to get somewhere before the sun actually peeks over the horizon seems a difficult task. It’s not always a long drive to reach someplace in Siouxland, but I find jump starting my “get off my ass and go” engine takes a bit of effort. But when I get somewhere, I am most certainly glad I got up and explored the destination, enjoying the light play that an early morning sun will sometimes create.

A misty fall morning in rural Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Monday Oct. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A misty fall morning in rural Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Monday Oct. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Add a little cool overnight temperatures and as the sun warms up the earth magical things happen as the light plays with the mist that is created. I don’t always avail myself of every opportunity I might have in photographing light play. And sometimes I know I am just being lazy. But these days I don’t mind. I will enjoy what I see and the moment and only hope there may be more sometime down the road.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A misty fall morning in rural Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Monday Oct. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A misty fall morning in rural Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Monday Oct. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Flying Escort in Siouxland, rural Thurston County, Nebraska

19 Nov
Two Canada geese get an escort from a bevy of Red Wing blackbirds as they fly along the Missouri River on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the last year I have spent more time visiting nature places in Siouxland with a concerted effort to hopefully photograph birds and other animals than in previous years. Shooting wildlife is not as easy as it seems. The critters are quite fast, but because of the pandemic I spent a good portion of my time traipsing through various nature preserves in the area, near and far. And enjoyed it. Shutting out so much “white noise” that has occurred because of people’s views on staying healthy, or not.

While walking a trail near the Missouri River not far from Winnebago, NE I saw some geese fly overhead with apparently an escort by some a flock of red-wing blackbirds. It made me think of those WWII war movies where B-51 bombers flew to Europe escorted by fighter plans to run interference during their mission. While I don’t believe the smaller birds were escorting the larger birds, it did give me pause, and a chance to marvel at nature and possible quirks I never noticed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Flying the Friendly Skies in Siouxland, Rural Nebraska

11 Nov
A Great Blue Heron lands on a dead tree seen Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I never tire and am always please when driving about Siouxland to see critters as they go about their day until I inadvertently disturb them when pulling up to a pond or other areas I am aware of in search of wildlife. And sometimes I think they spot my vehicle and hesitate just long enough for me to think I might actually get a photograph and then depart, just as I am hitting the shutter button on my camera. The challenge to photographing creatures in their environment. Some day I might actually become good at it, maybe, but for the time being, seeing the animals in their habitat is enjoyable in and of itself.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Great Blue Heron flies to a dead tree seen Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Great Blue Heron looking as if it has enormous stilts to stand on perching in the top of a dead tree seen Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Passing Through Siouxland, Emerson, NE

26 Oct
Main street exits into the countryside from downtown Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many of the small town communities throughout Siouxland have an extensive history, many tied to the beginning of the railroad as it began crossing the vast regions of the country expanding west. That is true of the small Nebraska community of Emerson. It began as a railroad town in 1881, a “junction on the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway. It was first known as “Kenesaw Junction.” But there was another town in Nebraska by that name, a new one, “Emerson,” for the author Ralph Waldo Emerson, was chosen. Emerson incorporated in 1888 when the population was between 200 and 300. By 1893 the village had grown to 600 residents.”

A mural depicts a former depot seen in Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A commemorative bench honoring loved ones in Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not quite 1,000 residents live in Emerson which sits on a crossroads to other points within the state and region. Everyone calls home someplace. People are born there, move with family or work work reasons. And in various places put down roots and stay. Small communities have disadvantages compared to their bigger siblings in some respects, but offer advantages that larger communities sometimes can’t. And problems and joys are found in both. The song said “Wherever I lay my hat, is my home”. For good or not, everyone comes from somewhere.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An overcast day and sunlight peeking through creates a dramatic look in Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Main street enters from the countryside to downtown Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A commemorative bench honoring loved ones in Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An area downtown honoring those from the area who served in the Armed Forces seen in Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Uehling, NE

22 Sep
Crossroads in downtown Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy driving around Siouxland, not always knowing what I might find. And like many other states, there are numerous small towns one might run across that somewhat appear out of nowhere, but have been in existence for decades if not a century for some of them.

A country road heads off into the distance leaving Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mount dedicated to the anniversary of the community’s founding on a downtown store in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some communities are a mere crossroad for the surrounding area. In former glory days these small communities sprung up as railroad tracks and lines were laid through the area. In earlier centuries the small town was necessary because of the distance to travel and time spent by early modes of transportation, which now with automobiles is not the issue it might have once been with horses and buggies and wagons.

Each place has a story to tell, although sometimes finding that story can be challenging. These days there is a plethora of content online, though it may not be the content one is searching for to find answers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A visitor might assume the community was named after Theodore Uehling see in in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mural heading into empty space seen in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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