Enjoying a nice evening in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

4 Dec

Sometimes serendipity is a nice thing. While visiting with some friends over the Thanksgiving holiday I was greeted with a glorious site as I headed home. Anymore I don’t carry long lenses with me as I seldom use or need them for the kind of photography I do these days. But this was a time I wish I had one so I could photograph a scene a bit tighter. But still, I was glad I could stop on a backroad, get out, and enjoy what I saw while still making a couple of photographs to remind me that nature is surprising sometimes. Although probably not to those who follow the moon phases. But, I happen not to be one of those folk and just like the surprise as I crested a small hill and saw the scene unfold in front of me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The moonrise in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Fonda

2 Dec

A mural celebrating the community in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like visiting the small towns that dot Siouxland. Most are quaint and all give a look into the history of what made this part of the state what it is. There are many time places to learn a little more about a community’s past, although it sometimes depends on the time of year and catching a museum when it is open.

A little history posted on a museum in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Fonda Museum based in the McKee Opera House in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like walking the quiet streets and wondering what traffic must have been like during the early pioneer days when the town was just getting underway and full of promise for itself and its residents. A lot of communities though are slice of life and lifestyle that people call home and enjoy. A place to get away from other distractions that might be occurring elsewhere in the country.

A couple local residents enjoy some sunshine in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A community garden anchors one end of the downtown in Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I also enjoy the visual puns which I think are not on the minds of people when what they represent are originally created. A central park, like the one in Fonda, is just that, a central park to a community. But say the name and most times folk will think of New York City.

A Central Park in this not as famous community of Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A central gathering place in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it’s still a nice to go and sit at the end of the day and visit with friends and neighbors and soak in the community one knows and appreciates and hope for a continued success as the future keeps coming and life keeps changing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

‘Tis the Season in Siouxland, O’Connor House, Homer, NE

30 Nov

With Thanksgiving barely behind us, some local organizations and groups are already in the full swing of celebrating Christmas in Siouxland. But that’s understandable as people are less inclined to attend some celebrations the closer, and sometimes more hectic, it gets to the actual holiday.

The O’Connor House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and each year is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Each individual bedroom in the O’Connor House is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The O’Connor House in Homer, NE hosts two weekends where different groups or organizations each step up and decorate a room in the historical house with a Christmas effect. And the historical home of a first settler is staffed with volunteers to tell visitors about the family and life of the house and on the plains. One volunteer actually grew up in the house as a boy, after the O’Connor’s lived there in the late 1860’s, when his parents rented the place. Duane Harris tells some fascinating tales about the original owner, Cornelius O’Connor and life during the early settler days when the area was shared with the Native Americans who had lived there for generations.

Dakota County Historical County volunteer Duane Harris grew up in the O’Connor House and now tells visitors during a Christmas celebration about some of the home’s history and about the original occupants in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Each room of the home is staffed with people relating stories about that particular space, either something about the family, or related to those possibly in one of the many photographs that dot the home.

Visitors are greeted by Dakota County Historical Society volunteers in each room to share a bit of history about the O’Connor House and its first occupants during aChristmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photographs of one of the O’Connor children on display at the O’Connor House during a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course one important room is the kitchen where there are people baking cookies in a wood-fired stove with great success. Gingerbread cookies never tasted so good. And each room looks so homey one feels inclined to just sit, have some hot cider or chocolate and enjoy the ambiance.

Dakota County Historical Society volunteers busy in the kitchen baking cookies and gingerbread men cookies in a wood fired stove during the Christmas celebration at the O’Connor House in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Each of the bedrooms in the O’Connor House is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The O’Connor House is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course the one takeaway I enjoyed most was a small sign almost hidden in the pantry near the kitchen. Reassuring people to not feel guilty about the Christmas holiday or enjoying its bounty.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A sentiment of many holiday patrons is seen on a shelf near the kitchen at the O’Connor House during a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cultural History in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

28 Nov

Even living in the Siouxland area there is always something new to learn. Recently I did an assignment for a client that showed the continuing tradition of a traditional Indian corn harvest in Winnebago, NE where the Ho-Chunk tribe of Nebraska reside.

HoChunk Farms manager Aaron La Pointe checks an ear to see if it’s ready for harvest during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ag Business Operator for HoChunk Farms Jason Hulit starts a fire to boil harvested corn during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The tribe is intent on keeping alive the traditions of its culture and sharing those traditions with others as well. And I enjoy history and learning about people, especially since many things I run across these days I do not remember seeing in a history book while in school, or a totally different tale told by those who authored the books. Depending on the author sometimes history is skewed in its telling.

hoChunk Farms manager Aaron LaPointe, center left, and harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, center right, shuck ears of corn as a fire begins water to boiling for a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

HoChunk Farms manager Aaron la Pointe, left, and harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, center, begin adding corn ears to boiling water as ag business operator Jason Hulit, left, watches the fire so as to keep the heat up during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

HoChunk Farms harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, left, and farm manager Aaron LaPointe, back center, remove ears of corn after they boiled a few minutes during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

There is a particular process which the harvest goes through and the ears of corn are boiled then the kernels removed by hand, dried and stored until later a community soup is made and served among its residents. It’s a tradition that the Winnebago Tribe is hoping to once again instill in younger members and get more community involvement.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spoons and dishes were used to celan corn kernels from the cobs so the kernels could dry in the sun during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

HoChunk Farms harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, left, volunteer Jeremiah Walker, center, and farm manager Aaron LaPointe, right, secure and wrap of dried Indian corn kernels during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Indian corn kernels dry on netting as volunteer Jeremiah Walker, left, HoChunk Farms harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, center, and farm manager Aaron LaPointe, right, take a moment to relax before cleaning up after a day of traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

Light Play in Siouxland, Omaha, NE

26 Nov

Visiting the city of Omaha, NE, just south of Siouxland one can enjoy the urban environment without some of the hassle of much larger metropolis. And the light interacts differently with buildings there than it does in other cities I visit in and around the Siouxland area.

An architectural detail on a building near Old Market in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Soft light and a bit harsher light, although fall produces less of the latter with the sun occupying a different sector of the sky. I just enjoy the light play and how it interacts with these manmade structures and makes me ponder if the original architect really knew what would happen in such a scene as he/she were planning the design for this particular building, or if it was merely commerce and a commission to get something up that would become a warehouse, office building, or later formerly used buildings converted into loft apartments.

Afternoon light highlights one building and shades another near Old Market in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Neighborhood residents enjoy the sunshine near Old Market in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The architecture harkens an earlier era and gives a nice feel to this part of Omaha. And personally try to enjoy these simple pleasures, the interplay of light and shade, sometimes in snippets and fragments as I explore surrounding Siouxland areas.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Railing shadow and wall design near Old Market in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fading Fall Remnants in Siouxland, Storm Lake

24 Nov

Winter is already bearing down on parts of the U.S. recently, even though some mountain regions in the western part of the country has already received snow fall earlier this year. Fall and its colorful display is becoming a distant memory in Siouxland as winds and now rain and some snow have removed most leaves from the trees. Visiting Chautauqua Park in Storm Lake I got a chance to take in some color, even though it was an overcast day with a bit of chill in the air.

A feel of fall in Chautauqua Park in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I kept thinking how colors on the trees would just pop with a nice blue sky in the background. But wishful thinking didn’t make it so. So I enjoyed the color and visit and even made a new friend while visiting.

A feel of fall in Chautauqua Park in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A feel of fall in Chautauqua Park in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Meeting new friends in Chautauqua Park in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy seeing places during different times of the year. Having previously visited this park the starkness of the trees made other objects standout more, including some new wood carvings.

One of many wood sculptures in Chautauqua Park in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And the lake itself I like to see. It’s calming sitting on a bench and enjoying the lapping of water against the shoreline. Although this particular day as the lake took on a glassy kind of scene the chill in the air made me a bit more circumspect about sitting on a bench and enjoying the view. Just standing and enjoying the lake and taking a few images made me think more of a couple of coffee shops where I could acquire a warm or hot cup of java and help me brave these changing elements and photograph a bit more before returning home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A hazy, wet fall day in Chautauqua Park in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring Vision in Siouxland, Fonda

22 Nov

When out photographing I am always debating myself about the best way to present an image. I sadly must admit I have a strong opinion when I see things and immediately photograph something as I think it should be seen. I try to temper that strong opinion when teaching because we all see differently, and just try to offer an alternative viewpoint of an image in case a student didn’t consider that possibility. And trying to get them to look at scenes completely and then making an image because they felt strongly about it.

A light post and its shadow in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This is the image I decided I liked best even though I did a couple with a more horizontal view. I liked isolating the light pole and shadow within the frame without too much distraction around them. Which I think a more horizontal image would provide.

A light post and its shadow in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The shadow and light pole I think become lost with the space and other rectangular elements in the image. But that’s just me. I find these days I am shooting more squares simply because I like the presentation more and it gives me more vertical space to play with. Ah, it’s all in the eye of the beholder and preferences we all have in making our decisions with images.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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