Tag Archives: rural iowa

Vestiges of Spring in Siouxland, rural Monona County

13 Nov

Spring green seen from a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring is long gone and fall most recently here in Siouxland. The latest weather reports indicate that soon the area may experience overnight lows in the teens or single digits. Add in a little wind chill and thee area could be below zero. Too soon for my taste, and makes me begin thinking and dreaming about spring in the following year.

Wildflowers seen near a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Loess Hills seen from a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the Joni Mitchell song so well reminds folk, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” from her song Big Yellow Taxi. As I have gotten older I try to enjoy the moments and days that I experience, and am not in a hurry for the next. Winter time can be a bit bleak and one never knows if it will be only a brown landscape and no snow, or white for days. And the extreme cold doesn’t help.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A meadow seen from a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A sign provides information about the local area and the Loess Hills in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some Days are for Clowning Around in Siouxland, Grand Meadow Heritage Days, Washta

26 Oct

Clown Special K launches bubbles into the air at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When visiting the Grand Meadow Heritage Days earlier this fall in Siouxland there were a few artists and others set up to entertain visitors to the museum and enjoying a look back in time at the displays. The clown Special K was creating balloon hats for kids and releasing bubbles into the air. Lots and lots of bubbles. Even though she probably entertained those attending, it would have been nice had more people shown up. Rest assured she went home “squeaky clean”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Clown Special K launches bubbles into the air at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Clown Special K launches bubbles into the air at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Clown Special K launches bubbles into the air at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Clown Special K with a tool of her trade to launch bubbles into the air at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Clown Special K creates a balloon hat at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reliving the Old Wild West in Siouxland, Iowa Western Border Agents, Grand Heritage Center, Washta

22 Oct

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While attending the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival Days in Siouxland, in September, I ran into some folk who I previously met and photographed who belong to a black powder gun club, the Western Iowa Border Agents, and do staged Wild West Shootouts at various places they visit. Sometimes parades, sometimes other festivals. I talked with some of the club members a few years ago and asked about their interest in the Old West. Some of the kids then are now grown adults and according to one dad, living on their own as he smiled and looked at his sons.

Visitors to the festival watch as the Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The men’s portrayals and sharing of their interest is no different than those who attend Civil War re-enactments around the country, being involved in a kind of real-world experience of past events.

One of the gentlemen told me he does all of the loading for the rounds fired for the pistols and rifles. But that, like with everything else, costs have risen due to the pandemic and limited supplies, some items have gone from $12.00 per pound beyond $100.00 per pound for material. Which for an enthusiast is a steep cost for a hobby.

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Those that watch enjoy the staged event, a retelling of some of the harsher elements of the Old West where slights and disparaging remarks were settled by gunfire. Sadly those, it mirrors some of the current occurrences that happen today. Someone slights someone at a party and then you read about a person returning with a weapon and shooting someone.

One of the gentlemen told me that a parade event the group has been involved with for many, many years and in which they always did a staged shootout during the parade has been cancelled for a couple of years. Organizers cited the Parkland School shooting event which had happened that year and couldn’t in good conscience allow the stage shooting as people not aware of the staged event could panic believing an actual shooting is taking place. Modern society is not so modern sometimes.

But doing the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival in attendance enjoyed the “show” and everyone walked away and deciding who would hit the dirt the next time as we all like to come out as heroes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club talks to their cameraman prior to a staged Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A couple chat prior to the Western Iowa Border Agents’ stage shootout event at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reminiscing About History in Siouxland, Grand Meadow Heritage Festival, Washta

14 Oct

A man pauses at a window while visiting the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it fascinating to learn about the history of a place and the people when visiting small town festivals or museums. And I have visited the annual heritage festival a few times over the years. Many local and not local folk visit and reminisce about attending school, now museum, which houses many artifacts from previous decades and even a century or two.

A former school now a museum of history at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farm implements from a couple of centuries ago on display in the museum during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farm implements from a couple of centuries ago on display in the museum during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farm implements from a couple of centuries ago on display in the museum during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children visiting with parents and grandparents seem especially taken with technology they have never seen or heard of let alone used. And probably after a half day’s use might be very thankful for today’s version. And while it may be eavesdropping, hearing people talk about life in the old days is fascinating and telling, as most never say they went without when they didn’t know what they didn’t have to begin with. Although, most would agree, with all sorts of improved technology, the most favored seems to be the invention of air conditioning.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A scene from a history book that some folk still remember and seen at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early century technology on display at the museum seen during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The annual Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pioneer wagons on display at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Treasures in Siouxland, Rebecca Gather, Textile Artist

8 Oct

Textile artist Rebecca Gothier shows off and talks about her pine needle textile work at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun, and nice, to happen upon something unexpected when traversing around Siouxland, and so it was when I met textile artist Rebecca Gothier at the most recent Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s annual Heritage Days recently.

While photographing her working some macrame or crocheting ,she began telling me about working with long pine needles and other various natural items to create some interesting and unique textile items.

Textile artist Rebecca Gothier shows off and talks about her pine needle textile work at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Textile artist Rebecca Gothier shows off and talks about her pine needle textile work at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Textile artist Rebecca Gothier shows off and talks about her pine needle textile work at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rebecca said she uses a mixture of natural items to actually dye some of her work and give it a hue that is more natural and “earthy”. Being a humble photographer and not much of a textile kind of guy, I listened and understood most of what she was talking about, but some aspects also was above my pay grade as the saying goes.

But nevertheless it was a wonderful chance encounter as a local festival and something that would not have happened if I had not seen her sitting and working in a pool of light, which is was drew my attention to her as the barn area she and other artists were located was rather dim. And this time the light highlighted something unique.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Textile artist Rebecca Gothier shows off and talks about her pine needle textile work at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Textile artist Rebecca Gothier shows off and talks about her pine needle textile work at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Textile artist Rebecca Gothier shows off and talks about her pine needle textile work at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storms in Siouxland, rural Sioux County

5 Aug

Storm clouds appear to bring rain showers near Ireton, Iowa in rural Sioux County Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I was younger and prior to living in Siouxland I chased a few storms for newspapers I previously worked for, in west Texas and Louisiana. Looking back on those experiences it was probably not the best of choices. But it can produce interesting images. Many of them centered on property destruction on surrounding communities where I worked. Storms roll through the Midwest and Siouxland in the spring and summer. Sometimes they can be pretty dramatic, other times they bring needed rain without much drama. Generally those are the better storms. But I still enjoy going out occasionally to check out the clouds and such and hope the most action I see is heavy rain. Done the the hail and high winds and I can pass on those. To which the adage “no pain no gain” can extol a heavy price especially when personal vehicles are damaged.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Storm clouds appear to bring rain showers near Ireton, Iowa in rural Sioux County Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storm clouds appear to bring rain showers near Ireton, Iowa in rural Sioux County Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying “Light Play” in Siouxland, rural Monona County

9 Jul

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting various areas of a hillside off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when I drive about Siouxland I have not particular destination in mind, or at least no particular subject matter. Sometimes when checking out an area to see what I can find and have as a resource for later use I will take a drive. One particular weekend day afternoon to got lucky as the sun was getting low in the sky for the end of the day, the sunlight broke through the cloud cover that had contained it and showered the countryside with light. Very directional and hard lighting that will give a landscape a bit of character or bring its own character out as it sculpts hillsides and other amenities.

A lone Canada goose sits quietly on a shaded pond off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting various areas of a hillside off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like watching the light when it creates some amazing possibilities for images. Even if I am not shooting or in position for what I might think would be a good photograph. A pond nearby was in shade because of the low setting sun and the trees and provides a good contrast (pun intended since there is no contrast in light at the pond) to what an area looks like without the sunlight streaming across.

Life sometimes should be simple and a joy to just enjoy simple things, like sunlight and a landscape.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting various areas of a hillside off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring Siouxland, rural Monona County

7 Jul

A winding country road beckons one to explore in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I sometimes feel like I haven’t been exploring Siouxland as much as I have in the past. Other concerns and work tends to keep one busy, as well as higher gas prices. But slowly driving about back country roads is always a joy because one never knows what to expect or what one might see. Sometimes nothing and then again.

A wood barn still stands seen off a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting an outbuilding off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular area I have driven many times but recently found out about a wildlife management area I have never hiked and it has some amazing views. So I drove out this direction a couple of times before a prairie seminar was to take place so I could actually find it and attend. Nothing worse than going somewhere and never arriving because one couldn’t find it.

A farmer makes his way to his next field for spring planting preparation on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cattle graze in a field just off a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And on a coolish evening as the sun begins to set, the light doesn’t magical things to the surrounding countryside and all within it. A better way to end an evening that some I have had in the past. Just wandering, listening to music and enjoying the moment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting an outbuilding off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Sunset in Siouxland, rural Monona County

13 Jun

A muskrat has a snack in a pond off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everyone seems to have a routine when it comes to the end of day and the sun sets a little lower in the sky before dropping behind the horizon as nighttime falls. Even in Siouxland it seems critters use the remaining daylight hours to enjoy the moment before the coming night.

What appears to be a muskrat slips away after enjoying a meal away in a pond on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Red Wing Blackbird sings its heart as the suns begins to reach the horizon line out on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy driving about this time of day, and if parked somewhere in the country, the bird song fills the air almost up until evening is fully descended. Restoring a sense of calm and quiet, it’s a pleasant way to end one’s day. As the days get a bit longer there will be more time to enjoy the countryside and its residents if they care to share with a visitor passing through.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Possibly a Cooper’s Hawk sits almost unnoticed in the distance in a treetop as the sun sets and it looks for maybe one last meal in a field off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Stop and Go on a Country Road, rural Monona County

9 Jun

A deer checks its surroundings along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While out driving about some backroads in Siouxland I always feel so lucky when I come across wildlife and they take the time to acknowledge me, in a cautious way, as I try to take a few photographs from a distance to see if I can. I shoot a lot of frames these days because I know how fleeting some of these moments can be. Also, driving slowly on the back roads with minimal if no traffic is helpful in that I can pull to the side or shoulder safely and slip out of the car seat to get a better vantage point or angle and not feel like I am a contortionist behind the steering wheel.

A deer makes its way along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A deer stops to eat along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This young deer came up from out of a field not far from where some Turkey Vultures were gathered eating carrion on the roadway. The deer looked about warily, walked a bit, ate a bit and then walked some more, stopping and starting as it found the greens it was looking for before disappearing off the roadway down into another field safe for another day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer makes its way along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
%d bloggers like this: