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A Drive through rural Siouxland, Harrison County

30 Nov
Sometimes vehicle sunroofs can be beneficial when bird spotting like in rural Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was nice to get out on a recent weekend to drive about rural Iowa in Siouxland without extreme cold or snowy conditions on the backroads and Loess Hills byways. I enjoy driving through the scenic areas skirting the footballs of what is known as the Loess Hills in Iowa that stretches down into the southwest portion of Iowa.

A gravel road traversing the byways in rural Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular stretch of road and the general direction I was headed kept me driving through hilly areas most of which are wooded and will be necessary to check out come next fall. Coming across various rural scenes and sightings was rewarding and fun. I never drive very fast on the backroads allowing drivers with more “pressing matters” the opportunity to go around me as I look for subjects of interest to point my camera at.

Although at first hard to see, two deer find a lunch time meal in a newly harvested corn field in rural Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A rural scene in Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While the pace of being in the country really isn’t all that less frenetic as city dwellers, it does give one a chance to pause, look around, enjoy the beauty of the countryside if that appeals to a person. Some folk may find that really, really boring, but for others it is that slice of heaven. Time flies by fast enough until one realizes it has, and wonders how that happened. So slow drives on a weekend may not stop time or even slow it down, but I can personally can make an effort to enjoy it for what it is for myself and forgot about other crazy stuff happening in the world around me for a little while.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spotting an eagle sitting in a tree over a gravel road in rural Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some Holiday Cheer in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

26 Nov
Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As holiday events adjust because of the coronavirus pandemic many local places in Siouxland are working to still give local residents a chance to get out and enjoy some holiday cheer, if it’s just a little different than previous years. The Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve isn’t opening up its buildings this year for people to view history but instead has decorated the homestead area with lights and Christmas decorations to give folk a magical respite and a reason to get outside.

Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Homestead will be lit every weekend in December from 5-9 pm every Thursday-Sunday evenings. The logistics of which appear a bit daunting since the area is more a historical look back at history of the area than a haven for modern tech. But led lights and solar devices make some decorations more possible these days than not when needed power outlets are not always available.

Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So for the month of December area residents will at least have an opportunity to walk beneath the “lighted stars” at the Homestead if not a chance to visit with Santa in the welcome center this year because of crowding and mixing people from various walks in life.

A new reality for the present, but still some Christmas cheer and maybe an opportunity to reflect and remember what Christmas is really about.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas decorations adorn the area around the Adams Homestead proper at the nature preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas decorations adorn the area inside the welcome center at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas decorations adorn the area inside the welcome center at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas decorations adorn the fireplace inside the welcome center at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter’s Return to Siouxland, Sioux City

24 Nov

Sometimes one hopes for the best in what seems to be a wacky year. And even in Siouxland one hopes for a longer, quiet fall before winter returns and with it colder temperatures, snow to shovel and barren landscapes mostly devoid of color.

A woodpecker enjoys a meal even as a new winter snow falls, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter has returned to Siouxland and this time future forecasts for the month of November are not as rosy with temps staying fairly normal or below. The brief “Indian summer” that visited recently has left for warmer climes, leaving behind a white landscape.

A sparrow seeks shelter in a bush from falling snow, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like winter, but mostly when it produces some sunshine and temperatures that hover in the 20’s and 30’s, not the below freezing temps and 25-30 mph wind gusts that create a windchill of -20 or more. Maybe that makes me a fair winter weather kind of person, with the hope of getting out still and taking country drives, only being careful not to spend quality time in ditch on some backroad enjoying winter’s beauty.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A woodpecker enjoys a meal during a winter snow, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Angles, Lines and Fall Color in Siouxland, Linn Grove

20 Nov
An old unused bridge frames fall colors in Linn Grove, Iowa Tuesday, September 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving around Siouxland like many places presents opportunities to photograph a variety of subjects. And those depend on the taste of a photographer. My background as a newspaper photographer for a few small dailies gave me the opportunity to cover a wide variety of subjects.

From vehicle accidents, house fires, wildfires, storms, blizzards, county fairs, high school and college sports, politics and first baby of the year, I enjoyed the variety. And these days while not needing to cover such events anymore, I like driving around the backroads aimlessly wandering and looking for subjects that I find interesting. Living mostly in agricultural areas while working for newspapers reinforced my desire to look around this broad swath of land called Siouxland. And finding little gems, to my eye, is the reward for the time spent.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An old unused bridge frames fall colors in Linn Grove, Iowa Tuesday, September 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching Seasonal Changes in Siouxland, rural Monona County, Iowa

18 Nov
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©)

I encourage photography students to revisit places they have previously photographed because there will always be changes. Different time of day, time of year, weather, it all plays a part in an image one wants to create.

And it’s fun to witness the change, plus being out in the country away from all the white noise and just cruising a back road listening to music. I also ask students what is a better way to spend a day, that out photographing. Of course I am biased, but still.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Trying to Beat Mother Nature in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

16 Nov
Ho Chunk Farms, a subsidiary of Ho Chunk Inc., a Native American company, harvests a corn field northeast of Winnebago, NE on tribal land near the Missouri River Friday, Nov. 36, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farmers throughout the Siouxland area and elsewhere worked feverishly getting their crops harvested before another blast of winter hits the area like it did a couple weeks earlier. Most soybean crops have been combined, but a number of cornfields were still standing waiting to be picked.

Ho Chunk Farms, a subsidiary of Ho Chunk Inc., a Native American company, harvests a corn field northeast of Winnebago, NE on tribal land near the Missouri River Friday, Nov. 36, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Ho Chunk Farms, a subsidiary of Ho Chunk Inc., a Native American company, harvests a corn field northeast of Winnebago, NE on tribal land near the Missouri River Friday, Nov. 36, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ho Chunk Farms, a subsidiary of Ho Chunk Inc, a corporation of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska was working hard to complete its harvest on its tribal land. As a child I can remember my father harvesting late into the evening trying to pick as much of his crop as possible before the dew sets in and adds moisture to the corn which can become costly if the crop is harvested when too wet. Although the same is true if it’s too dry. Grain elevator operators like their “porridge” just right.

Ho Chunk Farms, a subsidiary of Ho Chunk Inc., a Native American company, harvests a corn field northeast of Winnebago, NE on tribal land near the Missouri River Friday, Nov. 36, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And the employees timed their harvest just right as Mother Nature delivered another early freezing rain and snow storm recently which surely would affect area farmers just trying to finish a year with debilitating tariff wars and summer storms and ill-tempered politicians who believe people’s lives are their own personal footballs to do with as they please.

As I know from watching my dad, farming is a hard job that while rewarding has sunny days and not so sunny days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Snow covers an unharvested corn field near Sioux City, Iowa Sunday Oct. 25, 2020 as local weather prognosticators said Siouxland, or western Iowa, eastern Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota could expect anywhere from 2 inches up to 7 inches depending on location. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Light in Siouxland, rural Iowa

12 Nov
The sun sets behind a hill at the Missouri Valley Welcome Center outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy watching light when I am out photographing in Siouxland and elsewhere. I should get out more this fall as recently a couple of nice sunsets materialized late afternoon within the last few days. But sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

But I enjoy watching how light interacts with its surroundings. And at times it is challenging to capture what I see and make it understood by a viewer.

Insects fly about in late afternoon sun at the Missouri Valley Welcome Center outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And when doing this one hopes that the subject one is photographing isn’t going to bite the photographer. I found shooting the insects above that I needed to get into the shade out of the late afternoon sun for them to leave me alone. The too must sense fall’s waning warm days and cooler temperatures coming.

The subjects will still be there and creating interesting opportunities to photograph them. It just depends on whether or not I want to bundle up to do it. Time will tell.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An afternoon sun creates strong shadows while visiting the De Soto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Forgotten Small Towns in Siouxland, Arcola, rural Monona County

10 Nov
Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History is a funny thing. Some things are never forgotten, and then others are never remembered but for sign posts. In Siouxland apparently as well as other places in Iowa there are a number of early towns of which little is known.

Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A hillside near where Arcola was situated, an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The only reference I could find doing a little searching online is that once a post office was in a township where Arcola was located from 1861-1187. The town came in to existence prior to the start of the Civil War and lasted for a short bit after the war between the states.

The countryside around the posted sign is hilly, part of the Loess Hills region in western Iowa and only happenstance while driving by allowed me to even catch sight of the sign. Now the area is wooded, with some surrounding farmland and a winding road that drifts off like a trail may have in those days when the state was in its infancy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Stepping Out in Siouxland, Ida Grove

8 Nov
A little used stairwell at a little used building downtown in Ida Grove, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking the first step or two for any adventure or any venture requires a forward motion. Looking for same in Siouxland requires effort and an open mind that one never knows what a person may see once something comes into view. Ever hopeful that something wonderful is just over the horizon and willing to take that step to see what it might be.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying a Fall Day in Siouxland, rural Monona County

6 Nov
The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a drive in Siouxland on some back country roads is always a joy in the fall. Colors are changing in the landscape and the light play is fun to see and how it might sculpt the landscape.

The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As days begin to grow shorter, even before the change of Daylight Savings, it’s nice that the crack of dawn doesn’t begin before 6:30 or 7 am. The same is true for sunsets. Driving around on the backroads with music on allows one to forget about whatever animosity is occurring in the world.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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