Tag Archives: rural america

Singing Christmas Carols in Siouxland, Nora SD

8 Dec

Around Thanksgiving I attended a Christmas carol sing-a-long in a small community in South Dakota in Siouxland. In Nora, SD music enthusiast and Christmas lover Mike Pederson invites people to come to a former general store and share in the spirit of Christmas.

Mike performs on a pipe organ in the store which he has been doing for 28 years, and is accompanied by a violinist and the voices of people who travel near and far to join in song and celebration of Christmas. The last sing-a-longs will be occurring soon and a real treat, it’s worth a drive.

Mike Pederson plays a pipe organ that sits in the store during the Christmas sing-a-long at Nora, SD Sunday Nov. 26, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The Nora General Store in Nora, SD, sits along a state highway and is listed on the National Register of Historic, which occurred in 2007. A Christmas sing-a-long has taken place for 28 years at the Nora store, Sunday Nov. 26, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

It is fun to meet people and sing with them, even if your voice sounds better in your head than in real life, like my own. Christmas is a season for rejoicing and sharing and the comradery with happy faces and voices is amazing. Mike would love to have you stop by and join in the fun. However, get there very early, otherwise you might find yourself listening in through the open front doors on a pleasant day, and through the doors on a day with temps in the teens and snow on the ground.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

With the seating and standing room full inside the store, others stand around the front door for the Christmas sing-a-long to sing carols at Nora, SD Sunday Nov. 26, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)


Enjoying the Fall Light in Siouxland, Plymouth and Woodbury Counties

10 Nov

I never tire of driving in the rural regions of Siouxland. Looking at the “vistas” of rural America, scenic agricultural depictions that is part of how this country was founded with the westward movement of people two centuries ago.

The light play in the fall makes driving in a “desolate” area all the more enjoyable.

A barn sits in a field in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Monday Oct. 23, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Most of the time these vistas include fields of corn, lots of corn, barns and winding roads that locals still drive to get to their destinations.

Some trees have already shed their fall color as others slowly turn along a county road in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, part of the Sioux City Diocese, Sunday Oct.15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Trees along a fence row begin to change color as fall slowly appears in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, part of the Sioux City Diocese, Sunday Oct.15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I find a sense of peace driving these roadways, away from the noise of larger cities, the use of computers and a chance to just see nature and albeit man’s interpretation of nature as more acreage in rural Iowa is converted into tillable land. But still, it’s good sometimes to take a pause and just enjoy what is there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Brief Drive Through in Siouxland, Wall Lake

6 Nov

There are many small communities that exist and thrive in the Siouxland area. Possibly bigger in past glory days when the area was first getting underway with westward expansion. But these small towns still thrive and are home to residents of Siouxland.

in Wall Lake Iowa Iowa Friday, May 12, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And many times a person actually has to make the effort to get off the interstate or other major highway to drive through these communities to see what makes up their state. It’s true that larger cities have more people and populace, but a large number of people still call rural Iowa home and enjoy the smaller surroundings that make up their communities. Others may see a drive spot on the road, but one never really knows what exists without making an effort to see what is there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Moonrise in Siouxland, Plymouth County

27 Oct

As I have gotten older I don’t always get up before the sun or even see it set during certain portions of the year. And that doesn’t both me in the least. But sometimes when out I enjoy varying what I photograph and occasionally I do see a moonrise. No longer working for daily newspapers my schedule is more flexible and less demanding and I can enjoy the evening at home or out photographing.

I generally don’t carry a tripod and make do trying to photograph the scene as best as I can. And while not always a stellar image compared to other nature and landscape photographers I am aware of, it personally is satisfying. And it makes me ask myself why I don’t do more photographs of this nature as I head home anticipating my cup of coffee waiting for me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Moon over the countryside near Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Seeing Shapes and Patterns in Siouxland, Cherokee

25 Oct

When teaching one of my photography classes at the local community college through the Lifelong Learning program I always bring up compositional techniques and how these can be instrumental in helping photographers better inform a viewer of what a photograph is about and direct that viewer’s eye as he/she looks at the photo. And I also tell them there is no right or wrong technique or vision. If not everyone likes an image, even their family, they will eventually get over it.

But a larger point I try to make is to get people to “see” It’s so easy to drive by a familiar place day after day after week after month, etc., and not really see it. While driving around Cherokee in 2015 I made a few exposures. I had looked at the images then but never got around to processing them. I looked at the again recently and saw something I liked with a few of them and those were the shapes and patterns created by objects I saw. I know I saw them at the time or I would not have take the photographs. But this time around as I did an edit the shapes and patterns gelled in my mind a bit more.

Shapes in Cherokee, Iowa, Monday, August 24, 2015.

Shapes in Cherokee, Iowa, Monday, August 24, 2015.

Repetitions and patterns and shapes exist everywhere. And it just takes time for a person to stop and see and share those images with others in hopes they will see something different that is also familiar.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seasonal changes in Siouxland, Cherokee County

21 Oct

As seasonal changes appear in Siouxland I try to enjoy the last vestiges of summer even though it is already October. What I find changing the most is rural parts of the region as fields are harvested and the green disappears and turns brown and the land settles into a winter slumber. And that is part of exploring this area called Siouxland that I enjoy. It changes with the seasons and gives one a sense of loss and anticipation. Although I don’t have many friends looking forward to the winter months and the thought of snow and cold. But that too shall pass.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Summer Fading in Siouxland, Arnolds Park

19 Sep

Summer has faded in Siouxland, with days growing shorter and the feel of fall creeping in. On a visit to the Iowa Lakes Region during the week, it became evident that fewer people were rummaging about and those there were enjoying those fading remnants of summer. Especially on a lake where everything revolves around the water.

The summer livin’ is easy in Arnolds Park, Iowa August 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer boating in Arnolds Park, Iowa August 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the fall’s crisp days and colder evenings begin to settle into the area, people can wistfully think about the languorous summer days and how they spent them and dream of the following year and what adventures might await them for their next trip to the lakes enjoying the moment away from cares and daydreaming of those summer days as children.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying the waning days of summer in Arnolds Park, Iowa August 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Lawn chairs on a dock in Arnolds Park, Iowa August 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

%d bloggers like this: