Getting Dry in Siouxland, Snyder Bend Park, Woodbury County

30 Apr
Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The last year or so less and less rain has fallen in the Siouxland region which includes western Iowa, northeaster Nebraska and south eastern South Dakota. A recent visit to Snyder Bend Park has shown how much water has receded from a previous shoreline. The park’s water is fed from a local power plant when it discharges water into the area. With little snow over the winter and until recently hardly any rain, at times the park looked like a dust bowl when the wind gusts occurred.

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I visited the park a couple years ago and eagles were migrating the park was filled with water. Now the former lake beds are a giant, sandy beach. Time will tell how this will unfold and what will be seen for recreation this summer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing a Historical Landmark in Siouxland, Garfield Township Hall, Beresford, SD

28 Apr
The former Garfield Township Hall seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 the hall was built sometime around 1908. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bits and pieces of history are scattered throughout Siouxland, probably like many other places, and little recognized by most people, even those living in the area. Passed by and seen as some old building, maybe past its prime. The Garfield Township Hall is a historic place that served its purpose earlier in another century.

According to a Wikipedia account the township of Garfield was established in 1880. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. And currently it appears that someone or group is trying to give it a little TLC.

The former Garfield Township Hall seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 the hall was built sometime around 1908. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Township halls in earlier days was a place for pioneers and locals to conduct business in the area. At the time the region of Dakota Territory was being settled and developing from early trading posts and forts along the Missouri River. It is reported the hall was constructed sometime in 1908. It served as a polling place, a theater, a local government office, and a public meeting space. The Wiki report states that in 1936, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) added a basement and renovated the building’s facade to its present appearance. The Garfield Township Hall is one of the few remaining buildings of historic note that is still standing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The former Garfield Township Hall seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 the hall was built sometime around 1908. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Imagining History in Siouxland, Inkpaduta Canoe Trail, Correctionville

26 Apr
A sign informs a visitor about the Inkpaduta canoe trail near Copeland Park in Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I come across a piece of history in Siouxland I was not familiar with previously, I sometimes try to imagine what life may have been like in that time period, at least what the landscape might have appeared to those first settlers, and of course, to those already living in the region.

A sign informs a visitor about the Inkpaduta canoe trail near Copeland Park in Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Little Sioux City River is the Inkpaduta canoe trail near Copeland Park Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular day was not an ideal day to photograph in black and white. Overcast, darkish and a brown landscape does not make for exciting and provoking imagery. But given the history of the Little Sioux River and what an earlier exploring photographer might have seen and recorded make me think photographing in black and white appropriate.

Also this reference at Copeland Park in Correctionville to Inkpaduta does not include the sadder saga that occurred in Okoboji of where settlers were massacred by this chief and his braves which happened in retaliation to his own brother being killed by a white settler for the reason of not helping a starving group of Native Americans who had long resided in the area “now claimed” as his land.

The Little Sioux City River is the Inkpaduta canoe trail near Copeland Park Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Little Sioux City River is the Inkpaduta canoe trail along with a forested area near Copeland Park Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So I try to imagine the area as seen by those first inhabitants, long before farming reshaped the landscape or any kind of building touched the landscape. Photographing in black and white might be an homage to an earlier exploring photographer but probably did not do justice to the scenes depicted. I personally like a bit more contrast and saturated blacks. However I don’t spend a lot of time in post processing and do not use plug in accessories that might create a stronger B&W image.

It was just nice to find another slice of history I had not previously encountered and enjoy that day the relative quiet that was almost certain prevalent in the day when there was no traffic noise from a nearby roadway. Just the sound of leaves underfoot and the running of the water in the riverbed. Maybe as Simon and Garfunkel believed in their tune, “The Sounds of Silence”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A forested area along the Inkpaduta canoe trail at Copeland Park Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Beaver Town in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park, Sioux City

24 Apr
Apparently beavers have been busy in the forest at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. A tree was felled by park personnel after its base had been gnawed by the furry critters. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent walk at a local park in Siouxland I was surprised to see so much “beaver” activity, yet I didn’t really see any beaver buildings that one often sees in the country along and in water. I was hoping with some recent warm weather that maybe the trees were beginning to green up at the park, but alas, I was disappointed with the progress but then came across all of this activity.

Some green is starting to appear at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Apparently beavers have been busy in the forest at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Apparently beavers have been busy in the forest at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. A tree was cut down after the furry critters were getting close to the tree falling over. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I did see where park personnel has been clearing areas of trees, possibly those downed by winter storms where wind gusts up to 60mph along with reported tornado sightings in December and again in February were occurring in Siouxland and elsewhere in Iowa. But the gnawed look of so many trees seemed very indicative of some ambitious creatures who possibly needed a new addition to an existing home or maybe the kids decided to move back in because various reasons.

I have never been up early enough, or maybe late enough, to find these critters working their magic . I probably would not have the patience to sit and wait to attempt to photograph them. And probably don’t have the proper gear to work in such low light or darkness to begin with. But it seems no mistaking their handy work and evidently a thriving community within the midst.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A cut wood pile along a walking trail at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A tree felled by beavers at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Apparently beavers have been busy in the forest at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seasons in Siouxland, Bigelow Park and Brown’s Lake, Salix

22 Apr
A number of Canada and greater white-fronted geese take off from Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Monday, March 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The “spring season” in Siouxland as elsewhere seems out of whack with weather bouncing back and forth between seasonal and a bit warmer, to still cold with biting wind gusts that reminds one Mother Nature is not quite done with sharing winter yet. A couple of different days checking out Bigelow Park and Brown’s Lake yielded different results. Wind gusts making temperatures feel like the teens and only allowing one to stay outside of a warm vehicle for maybe 10-15 minutes tops.

Sandhill cranes make a flyover at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some common mergansers look like low flying missiles over Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Monday, March 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A common merganser flies low over some Canada geese and other waterfowl at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the wind and temperature didn’t seem to affect or bother the waterfowl present at the lake. Flying in and flying out, taking wing on whatever pretext, although some did react to low flying raptors looking for a meal and watching perched in nearby trees.

A juvenile bald eagle surveys Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An adult bald eagle looks over at a juvenile bald eagle in tree tops at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Monday, March 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But as much as I like watching the birds fly about and test my skills trying to photograph them, the windchill and cold temps made the prospect of having breakfast and a pot of coffee a strong influence in seeking a warmer climate than my vehicle. And nothing like having another opportunity to try again to capture these creatures in nature.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A common merganser flies low to land at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese lift off at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese do a fly over before landing at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

More Bird Antics in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

20 Apr
A downy woodpecker checks out the scene at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I never tire of watching birds at bird feeders. Each species seems to have its own ritual when having a bite to eat. And sometimes I even feel intrusive watching them eat as they stop, stare, long and hard, before continuing their meal. But for a quiet moment, it can be bliss.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Art Near Siouxland, and Just Seeing, Joslyn Musem, Omaha, NE

18 Apr
A security person walks through a painting gallery section at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy walking about art museums for the obvious reasons. Those in Siouxland and those that are located near the area. The chance to look at and ponder what lies before one’s eyes whether you agree with or even like what you see. But the creator of the piece saw something, and a museum displaying it saw worth in the acquisition to share with the public.

The painting of the woman and cat at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The subject’s eyes in the painting seem to follow visitors as they walk by. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking about the museum’s various galleries and public areas can also test the visitor’s “seeing” and the architecture involved to pique an interest. And whether one sees the entire scene or just a detail helps shape perception on the part of the viewer and can in turn help develop one’s eye.

The last look at the fountain and formal entrance at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The fountain in a main entrance at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And whether one wants to record, or photograph, what one sees and how one sees something can also be an exercise to “practice seeing” and later look at again and determine if what was recorded is what was intended. Exercising one’s vision to help refine a way of seeing is not a bad thing. As an instructor once told me, painters have a blank canvas to add elements too to create what they envision. A photographer has a lot of stuff in their field of view and then must eliminate or distill down the image that is envisioned to share with others as well as what photographically speaks to that individual.

Walking through a museum there are so many ways to interpret what is there by the use of space or light or depth, shapes, lines and angles. Making a conscious effort to align these in what an individual might believe is a telling image.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A different perspective of a piece of art work at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A different perspective of a piece of art work at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Peanut Butter Suet, a Delight in Siouxland, Sioux City

16 Apr
A downy woodpecker eyes a feeder in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This past year I have been pleased with seeing more fine feathered visitors in the Siouxland area. At least for me. I began putting out some “peanut butter” suet for those visitors and much like one of those noted peanut butter brands shown in TV ads, this particular suet must have been made with similar stuff. One particular downy woodpecker ate its fill and then proceeded to find a place to clean its bill. Maybe it will stick to insects a bit more next time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A downy woodpecker tries removing some suet from its beak after eating at a suet feeder in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker tries removing some suet from its beak after eating at a suet feeder in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker tries removing some suet from its beak after eating at a suet feeder in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker looks for grubs in a dead branch in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa.

Waiting for the Thaw as Winter Passes in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

14 Apr
Greater white-fronted geese among Canada Geese at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Friday, March 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As mentioned before winter in Siouxland and elsewhere has been different this year. Local weather folk said there were more above average warm days in February than cold days. But those cold days were very cold and small ponds and lakes, like Mud Lake at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, froze over. Migratory waterfowl walked about or even appeared to “skate” on the ice on the water. With only small areas where they could get their feet wet.

A Canada goose sounds off on a frozen Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, Sunday, March 13 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Blue hour in the morning on Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, Sunday, March 13 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But temperatures have warmed once again and the ice has melted for the time being. But it is not unusual to sometimes get a spring blizzard in April in Siouxland. It doesn’t last long, but still, winter has supposedly passed. The landscape is still brown, but recent and sporadic spring sprinkles with hopefully bring some spring flowers, or at least a green landscape. One can only hope it’s sooner than later.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two pair of Canada geese announce their presence at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, Sunday, March 13 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A morning walk on a frozen Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, Sunday, March 13 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

“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©)
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