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Christmas Cheer in Siouxland Begins, Yankton, SD

3 Dec

Feeling the Yuletide spirit in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s well understood that the Christmas season has already started. Decorations are up and retailers are calling shoppers and customers to come take a look and possibly buy. That horse left the barn many decades ago. While I might have mixed feelings about hawking Christmas gifts so early I do enjoy seeing the decorations and other trappings of the season.

Christmas decorations popping up in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Christmas cheer in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s cheery and nice to let the mind wander to happier thoughts that maybe news of the day or other intruding subjects create a different atmosphere. I must confess, while driving about I have already been listening to Christmas music, mostly instrumental with a New Age flair and jazz renditions of the holiday classics. It’s light, carefree and makes me smile.

Window displays with Christmas tidings in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Soon Siouxland communities will be having their annual lighted parades and other celebrations marking the holiday and working to get their residents and guests alike into the “mood”, wishing all good cheer and a Merry Christmas.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Christmas wreath decorates the Meridian Bridge, now a walking bridge, in Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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©)

A Siouxland Fall in Preparation Canyon State Park, Moorhead

29 Nov

Taking a look around Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A sign provides visitors with a history about the area of Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes it’s just nice to get out of doors and enjoy a walk, even a short one, in nature. Preparation Canyon State Park is one area I had not done much hiking in. And it was still pleasant enough of a fall day one could enjoy a walk and not be cold and still see some color in the Loess Hills region of Siouxland. As the cold settles in and the precipitation turns to snow all the color in this and surrounding areas will disappear until next year.

Taking a look around Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a look around Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Looking out onto surrounding farm land near Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And because this area along with others in Siouxland were settled in the 1850’s or so there is history to be found if one can find it and help you understand a bit more about the area. All of which must look a lot different than the prairie that the first settlers laid eyes on before the invention of the plow changed the landscape.

The vegetation and animal life has changed a great deal over the centuries around Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Taking a look around the forrested area of Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am hoping for a few more days of pleasant fall weather and maybe a milder winter without days of cold and windchill with a minus 5 or more below zero temperatures for a little more exploration before any ideas of hibernation set in.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Taking a look around Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Taking a look around Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Holiday Season Begins in Siouxland at the O’Connor House, Homer, NE

27 Nov

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The holiday season in Siouxland has begun as a number of small town museums and places have put up their Christmas decorations for visitors to once again stop by and enjoy a bygone era at the O’Connor House in Homer, NE. And nothing says holiday to me than seeing a plate of Gingerbread cookies, even though adults were not allowed, as they were made the children only, not including those young at heart either. An annual event, different people or organizations help sponsor the various decorated rooms of the O’Connor House, home to an early settler of the area.

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A volunteer gives a history of this room decorated for the Christmas season at the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Volunteers staff the various rooms to give visitors a bit of history of the house and the family that lived there, a sort of controlled chaos as dozens of folk pass through to enjoy the holiday spirit and decorations and revisit or visit for the first time a bit of local history.

Visitors read about the deaths of a number of the O’Connor children at the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The family enjoyed many Christmases before the deaths of a number of the O’Connor children as they reached young adulthood. The house still retains a wood stove in the kitchen where the Gingerbread cookies and other goodies are baked. Sometimes damp wood can fill the home with a bit of smoke when the stove is first fired up at the beginning of the day. Not overwhelming, but definitely a reminder of what life might entail in the 19th century.

Still, the home is solidly built by Cornelius O’Connor himself and has a cozy feel even in the 21st century when too many of us take for granted how truly blessed we are with out modern conveniences and the chance to peek into history without actually having to live it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A volunteer reads the history of this particular bedroom decorated for the Christmas season at the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Nice Fall Evening in Siouxland, Onawa

15 Nov

The Fall Photo Safari class taking photographs at night in Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Probably my favorite season of the year, like many Siouxland folk, is fall. Sunset comes a little earlier and the weather is still pleasant. Of course, not so much this year as winter seems to have already arrived and along with it, colder evenings. But recently with a photography class we spend a pleasant evening shooting pictures at sunset and night. Students practicing long exposures and light painting. I enjoy the long exposures. Light painting is a practiced art of science as one learns to determine length of exposure and amount of light to add to a scene.

The Fall Photo Safari class taking photographs at night in Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Fall Photo Safari class taking photographs at night in Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And how one lights a scene or uses the “existing” light to effect determines the outcome of a photograph. These images are taken at the Monona County Memorial Museum and Freedom Rock in Onawa. The placement of the plane with a neighborhood in the background makes it difficult to make a clean photo of the exhibit, especially using a setting sun to accomplish it. So one must take liberties and use selective cropping within the camera for some images. And then find the right exposure to create that image.

The Fall Photo Safari class taking photographs at night in Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But a challenge is always good, especially for students. And to fail a couple of times while learning a new skill only reinforces that skill once success is accomplished and a sweet image produced.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Fall Photo Safari class taking photographs at night in Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Decking the Halls in Siouxland, Yankton, SD

13 Nov

Feeling the Yuletide spirit in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In Siouxland like many other places, communities and individuals begin showing their Christmas spirit early, and maybe earlier every year. While I lament the fact that Thanksgiving Day gets short shrift anymore, the intent of the Yuletide spirit and cheerfulness of the Christmas season for the most part is a good reason to celebrate that cheer all year long.

A Thanksgiving window hanging in downtown Onama seen during a Fall Photo Safari class taking photographs at night in Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Christmas cheer in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During a recent visit to Yankton, SD, I came upon Christmas decorations, mostly in the downtown area, but also at the walking Meridian Bridge over the Missouri River. And seeing the decorations brought a smile to my face. Especially with all the hate that seems to fill the air these days during such a contentious political climate, and what seems to be never ending lies coming from “authority” figures which becomes apparent more each day who may never have spoken an honest word in their life.

A Christmas wreath decorates the Meridian Bridge, now a walking bridge, in Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Window displays with Christmas tidings in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So seeing the decorations and thinking of the holiday makes me cheerful, hopeful and optimistic that maybe life could be better next year. My cynical side has its doubts, but more now I’ll revel in the thought of true good will to others and not just “political speak” where the words are spoken but not with any affection.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas decorations popping up in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Fall Day in Siouxland, Lewis and Clark State Park, Onawa

11 Nov

at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days in Siouxland are so nice one just wants to savor them as long as one can. Recently a fall day had temps finally getting back into the 50’s with sunshine. The weather has been a bit funky this year and what should have been a great year for fall color found many trees getting close, but continued cold nights and rainy days seemed to stopped the color change in progress.

at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People were out though enjoying what they thought might be one of the truly nice days this year before the winter season begins bringing a constant chill to the air in the temperature range of the 20’s and 30’s. Indeed chilly and the cold spell helps the trees to drop their leaves before they can reach that peak of color display.

at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But I enjoy what I can and wandered through the park savoring the sunshine, the golden boughs and hoping for maybe one more day when I didn’t have to throw on a heavy coat to go outside and brave the chill.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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