Tag Archives: rural america

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©)

Visiting a Small Siouxland Community, Bancroft, NE

26 Sep

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I get out and about I like visiting small towns in Siouxland. Getting a chance to stop and walk about and see what is there. Although the times I visit may not be ideal in that if it’s a weekend, there may not be much activity. And generally speaking, in small towns these days activity is limited unless there is a community-wide event occurring.

The John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site is located in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Then there is the matter of taste. I like finding what I consider interesting subjects to photograph which does not reflect the nature or character of some places I visit. But visually it appeals to me whether it’s a doorway with peeling paint, brick structures built in the mid to late 1800’s or some other quirky attribute that is what I gravitate to photograph.

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I have found visiting a number of these smaller communities these days they all generally have grain elevators anchoring one end of the downtown. A tribute to the agricultural industry that is important to so many Siouxland communities in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. And sadly businesses that may have thrived for a period of time but run their course.

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But exploring the area one lives in is an interesting pursuit I believe and knowing and understanding a bit more about one’s community is not a bad thing. Plus so many times one meets people that makes it all worthwhile and helps in appreciating what one finds.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

%d bloggers like this: