Tag Archives: rural america

Curbside Food to go in Siouxland, Rural Cherokee County

18 Aug

A turkey vulture swoops in to join some friends in a roadside meal in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The advent of the coronavirus and its ancillary effects on people’s lives in Siouxland and elsewhere has been somewhat profound and probably the full extent will not be known until the virus is under control. People’s lives have changed including eating habits. Folk used to go out for meals but now many are dialing and asking for delivery or doing a pickup themselves. This kind of behavior I believe has been ongoing for years if not decades or longer in the animal world.

A turkey vulture looks up the roadway before feasting on some road kill in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Raptors, especially turkey vultures, have been enjoying “curbside meals” for as long as I have seen them. Sometimes I have to be cautious driving in the country because these birds are reluctant to leave their meal once they found it alongside the roadway and I don’t want them flying up and into my vehicle when I pass by. These creatures would probably turn their heads and wonder why these two-legged creatures haven’t been doing this previously.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Turkey vultures find their meal interrupted as a car approaches their road kill dinner in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Summer Day’s Drive in Siouxland, rural Cherokee County

8 Aug

A perfect Iowa summer’s day in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like driving about in the summer in Siouxland on back country roads. I don’t have to drive fast and can just enjoy the scenery. Growing up on a farm I sometimes think that prejudiced me to like being in the country rather than in the city. I am not exactly “Green Acres” material and those who understand will get the gist. Wide open spaces, a slow pace driving gravel roads and enjoying the a summer’s breeze, provided that the temperature isn’t in the 90’s and the humidity above 75%. Without the radio on, or maybe some low key jazz, my mind wanders and ideas come and go as I make my way in various places in this part of Iowa. When I was younger, I know I was in a hurry. Now, I want to enjoy the moment, hopefully a nice moment, and get to what needs being done in good time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A perfect Iowa summer’s day in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Americana Moment in Siouxland, Rural Cherokee County

30 Jul

An old, unused railroad trestle at the Pearse Area in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun to find a moment in life that seems to be pure Americana, especially in rural America, even in Siouxland. Possibly reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting. Although in this day and age that viewpoint may seem skewed to a particular demographic. But summertime is essentially kids’ time. Before the vagaries of adulthood creep into sight and childhood fun time has to be put aside.

A perfect Iowa summer’s day for some teenage boys as they jump from an old railroad trestle into the Little Sioux River in rural Cherokee County near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. What some might consider a quintessential slice of rural Americana and a right of passage hanging out at a favorite swimming hole. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Idyllic may be another way of looking at it. I was surprised and happy while out roaming some backroads in Cherokee County one day and I had come across this bridge and thought it might create a nice image. Then by chance driving across the the Little Sioux River I spied from some distance a group of boys up on the old trestle. Sometimes God smiles on you and the kids hung out long enough for me to swap lenses and from a short zoom to a telephoto. The railroad trestle was still some 2-3 football fields away, but made it possible to shoot a little tighter and tell a story many children in many places have experienced.

A perfect Iowa summer’s day for some teenage boys as they jump from an old railroad trestle into the Little Sioux River in rural Cherokee County near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. What some might consider a quintessential slice of rural Americana and a right of passage hanging out at a favorite swimming hole. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not all of the boys jumped into the water, but those that did spaced themselves out and hung around while the others behind them dropped into the water, creating their own living quintessential slice of Americana that maybe someday their own children may experience growing up in a rural place, some call heaven, others not so much. These boys are enjoying their summer, not thinking about tomorrow or next week or what school life might look like this year. Just enjoying a summer’s day and being kids.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A perfect Iowa summer’s day for some teenage boys as they jump from an old railroad trestle into the Little Sioux River in rural Cherokee County near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. What some might consider a quintessential slice of rural Americana and a right of passage hanging out at a favorite swimming hole. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Steady Steed in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

28 Jul

A horse chases away flies on a humid summer’s day in a field in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Monday, July 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days in Siouxland, like other places, are better than others. It all depends on the story. A horse standing at the top of a hill pawing the ground, bobbing its head as though it were Pegasus ready to leap skyward and fly to the heavens. But upon closer inspection, the poor beast is standing in a meadow besieged by flies and so it prances about trying to chase the little buggers away so it can have a few moments of peace. Paul Harvey said a lot when he used it now oft quoted tagline, “….the rest of the story.”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying Some Me Time in Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center

21 Apr

A chipmunk sits on a cinder block wall trying to stay warm on a cold spring day at Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes a little me time is a good thing. A chance to reflect on life and stop and smell whatever aromas are occurring around one. Even in Siouxland critters as well as people need time to catch a breath and view the sites and take a moment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying the Light in Siouxland, Harrison County

19 Apr

The setting sun is seen through a tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As a photographer I enjoy watching light. Whether I have a camera in hand or not. But preferably if out and about in Siouxland I want one for those moments I would like to capture. Recently I tried to photograph the setting sun along with a friend whose work I think outdid mine in this circumstance. He was interested in this tunnel created by a former railroad line and for the most part, the time of year helped bring the setting sun almost into alignment with the road passing through the tunnel.

The setting sun will eventually shine through this tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The setting sun is seen through a tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I did not do a good job handling the wide dynamic range created with the setting sun and the area around the tunnel that fell into shade. It also didn’t help that it was only 25 degrees out and cold. Patience was the last thing on my mind as the warmth of the sun evaporated and night fell. But the process of capturing a unique image was still invaluable. My friend used science and a sunset forecast to determine when might be an appropriate time to photograph the scene. And it was helpful that on this particular ay the weather cooperated and passing rain and snow showers took a day off.

The setting sun will shine through this tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The setting sun shines through a tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy the play of light. And sunrises and sunsets add much to circumstances in creating a dynamic image. Although it can feel like a slow process, waiting for the sun to set and staying warm at the same time. But in the end the result always makes the effort worth it. Even if one isn’t particularly happy with the resulting image, it was still fun to attempt and see if the final result would be a stunning image or a memory of a nice day out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The setting sun is seen through a tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The setting sun is seen through a tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Backroads in Siouxland, rural Pottawatamie County

15 Apr

A barn in Pottawatamie County near Crescent, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently I did a bit driving some rural, country roads in Siouxland’s southern region. No other vehicles passing by for the most part it was nice to get out and breathe some fresh air and forget about current events. I am still enthralled with the older barns I find in the area, each with history of its own and all past the days of former glory.

A house or small barn on a gravel road near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Siouxland region and country itself has gone through some changes when these places and others like them thrived in their heyday. Some good and others questionable. Time will tell about the end results of changes. In the meantime I just want to enjoy these relics and ponder their time in the sun and continue exploring the backroads.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Detail of a house or barn on a gravel road near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Flight of the Redwing Blackbirds in Siouxland, Rural Harrison County

11 Apr

 

Thousands of Redwing blackbirds in a field near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature puts on some amazing shows somedays. Most times those shows might be associated with storms. Thunder and lighting comes to mind. But on a recent outing in Siouxland I came upon a very large flock of Redwing blackbirds in a field as sunset approached. They would settle, then rise up and fly about, sometimes to an adjoining field and then back again.

Thousands of Redwing blackbirds in a field near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Thousands of Redwing blackbirds in a field near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was an amazing sight to watch. A choreographer’s dream as hundreds and possibly thousands of birds flew up and around and never crashed into one another. Moving in unison with like-mindedness. And then it ended as they moved on, tired of a spectator watching and maybe disturbing their ritual as the sun set and the day ended.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Thousands of Redwing blackbirds in a field near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Thousands of Redwing blackbirds in a field near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Cold January in Siouxland, rural Monona County

24 Jan

The month of January is only halfway though and winter has reminded Siouxland residents that it still has a lot to offer its residents. Cold, below freezing and zero cold. More snow. And the chance to daydream about those coming summer months with heat, humidity and warm summer nights.

Cruising in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always begin thinking about driving the backroads when winter in Siouxland gets its second wind and sends real chills down the back while one is out navigating snowy and slushy roadways and sidewalks. The days may be sunny, but at zero or below temperatures one knows winter is still here. Growing up on a farm I enjoy these days driving about the countryside and “smelling” the freshly tilled soil or crops once they have begun growing. Yes, there is definitely a particular smell emitted by the soil and plants. Much like someone city-born could identify certain aromas from a neighborhood they grew up in whether it is from a restaurant or seaside community. Childhood smells remain with us as we get older and maybe more discriminating in the aromas we want to partake in.

Planted crops on a summer’s day in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I try to put out of mind the thought of too much humidity on a hot summer’s day. That thought will come eventually, but for now, looking out a a white landscape, it seems very enticing and comforting. It’s always nice to have something to look forward too.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Planted crops on a summer’s day in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (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©)

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