Tag Archives: seasons

History and Religion in Siouxland, German City Church, Holly Springs

12 Jul

Locals have long worshipped at the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While not an ardent student of history, I do enjoy it and learning about places nearby where I live regionally in Siouxland. Iowa like many other midwestern states was settled by pioneers beginning in the 1800’s. Some folk settled as early as the 1830’s while others came in the 1850’s and later. The German City Church near a now small community of Holly Springs has been in service since the 1880’s. I have never attended a service or been around the church when it was open. But it is nicely maintained and cared for by its parishioners and is situated on a hilltop with a view of the surrounding valley around it.

A gravel road leads into the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the summer months the trees give the church solitude and allows one silence but for the birds to ponder those who settled the area a century or more ago and wonder about their life and the changes that have taken place since it was first built.

The historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding history and then spending the time to learn about it is important. All too often it seems the human race keeps repeating the same sins over and over, never learning from those who came before or teaching those who will follow that by the grace of God and a little bit of love and understanding, can go a long way in making the world a better place.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A scenic day with clouds at the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Summer’s Day in Siouxland, Rural Monona County, Iowa

10 Jul

Nature’s display of rolling hills and clouds along a gravel backroad in rural Monona County, Iowa near Castana, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days in Siouxland are that slow and easy living phrase made famous by George Gershwin’s “Summertime“, the sentiment of the lyrics and mood. There are days when a drive in the country allows one to get away from all the noise created by politicians, idiots and other folk one would rather not hear for a while. I mostly listen to jazz when driving about, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Dave Brubeck Quartet and Miles Davis. Some more modern artists as well.

A swan drifts in a pond along a gravel backroad in rural Monona County, Iowa near Castana, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I let my mind drift while just looking for images or potential images. There are some back roads I take into the Loess Hills region time and again and run across familiar scenes. Different day, time of year, time of day, all can make a difference with what one sees. And sometimes not.

Two weathered out buildings of a former homestead along a gravel backroad in rural Monona County, Iowa near Castana, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some scenes remain the same, which is nice in that there is no development, no summer homes or subdivision. The land is still farm land and the views are those views seen by folk possibly over a couple of centuries. Which in the early days of life on this continent the land was most likely traversed by Native Americans until the Europeans arrived and then pushed west looking for space and opportunity they didn’t find from whence they came. Philosophizing beyond what transpired is best done by those politicians and others who while maybe sincere, also seem to be looking for points and admirers to add to their stable of support.

So some jazz, maybe some quiet to hear the birds sing their own acapella tunes along with the wind rustling tall grass or corn stalk leaves and trees. Unwind, meditate and enjoy, continued stress does no one much good.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former farm house along a gravel backroad in rural Monona County, Iowa near Castana, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not yet the Garden Party in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

24 Jun

Timed reservations are required to visit the now reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life in Siouxland as elsewhere is beginning to return to some kind of normal. And for those folk I encountered visiting the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE recently, most don’t mind the slow reopening. The gardens now allow patrons and visitors to walk the grounds although indoor exhibits and some other areas are still sequestered and people are advised to wear masks, although it’s not necessary. And one must make reservations ahead of time to enter at a specified date and time.

Signs ask visitors and patrons to respect others space at the newly reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Most visitors are wearing face masks at the reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it was nice to get out and enjoy the beauty of the gardens. Entry begins at 11 am and during the summer months it’s not an ideal time for photographing outdoor subjects due to the harsher light at that time, unless one wants to create light and shadow photographs. Previously the gardens opened around 9 am, when the summer light is a little more directional and not yet so harsh.

Visitors and patrons can once again see the blooming spectacle at the recently opened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shady paths are always a welcome sight on a hot day at the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So it’s nice to be able to walk a shaded path and take a break from the sun overhead as the day also heats up. Living in the Midwest doesn’t mean one becomes used to heat and humidity, one just learns to mitigate the effects if possible.

Signage informs visitors and patrons about ongoing projects at the recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors and patrons enjoy a day out at the recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the timed entries there were not too many folk wandering about the paths, and those who were put masks on when they encountered others along the way. And all remarked how nice it was to be able to enjoy the gardens again, closed since mid March, and spend some time just enjoying the beauty and quiet.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

People enjoy a day out at the recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ode to Fatherhood in Siouxland, Sioux City

18 Jun

A male house finch is joined by juvenile finches on a bird feeder Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I can only surmise how a parent much feel as they watch their offspring grow up, even here in Siouxland. Listening to family and friends over the years the stories can be entertaining for the most part.

And I wonder if something similar plays out in the Animal Kingdom. To which I received a treat when a backyard bird feeder came alive with a lot sound.

A male house finch surrounded by juvenile finches Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Juvenile finches looking for their father who is at a nearby bird feeder Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems a male (father) house finch was out to grab a quick bite to eat and was quickly joined by some “youngsters”, juvenile house finches. And poor old dad couldn’t get much to eat without being interrupted.

Juvenile finches surround a male house finch on a bird feeder trying to eat some lunch Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A male house finch feeds a juvenile finch some bird seed Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Another juvenile house finch joins his dad and sibling on a bird feeder Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Try as he may to escape, the juvenile finches followed him about, each looking for attention and something to eat. Even as he flew from one point to another.

A juvenile house finch squawks at a sibling after it was fed by a male house finch Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A male house finch feeds lunch to some juvenile finches Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even after I stopped watching and photographing I could hear the cacophony of bird sounds creating an interesting din of nature. Thinking this particular male house finch will be glad when his brood is grown and literally “flown the coop”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A male house finch escapes its juvenile offspring looking to be fed keeps getting its lunch interrupted by juvenile finches Monday May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A male house finch sitting on a bird feeder Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing the Universe in Siouxland, Sioux City

6 Jun

Dew covers a lawn early morning Wednesday, May 27, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa.
(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A friend from many years ago would talk about zen and the universe. Being one with nature and finding a place to enjoy the quiet. In Siouxland life can seem overly busy, even during a pandemic. Creating structure in what now is a structureless environment while waiting out the effect of the coronavirus in the area even as more people test positive and life is deemed normal or near normal by some political leaders.

Maybe a quiet moment or two is in order, especially for those that appear to enjoy sowing chaos and problems. But that would take a miracle for some folk to contemplate life beyond what they believe in and what life means to them. One can only hope, and hope for a miracle to cure the disease, whichever disease one is looking to cure.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Dew covers a lawn early morning Wednesday, May 27, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa.
(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Rural Nebraska

31 May

A Turkey Vulture stretches its wings as it surveys its surrounding from a high tree top near Winnebago, NE, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am always delighted while driving about Siouxland when I get to watch nature in action, or inaction as the case may be. This particular turkey vulture seemed content to sit high in a tree and air out its feathers one morning this spring. Not in a hurry or any place in particular to go.

A turkey vulture stretches its wings sitting high in a tree as it surveys its surroundings near Winnebago, NE, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Maybe something to that attitude toward life as we humans are always rushing from one thing to another, hell bent for leather as the saying goes and with a purpose. Exactly what that purpose is seems important at the time, but over time it seems to fade and I sometimes scratch my head why I was in a hurry to “get there” in the first place.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A turkey vulture circles overhead near Winnebago, NE, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hanging out with Friends in Siouxland, Adams Homestead, North Sioux City, SD

29 May

Birds flock to a tree at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, April 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I find myself frequenting the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve often these days in Siouxland. It’s a nice place to go and forget about current events and issues and enjoy nature and the variety of animals that inhabit the park. All of whom are mostly hanging out with their friends every time I visit.

Turtles sunning themselves on a log at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

They live in the moment and enjoy what there is without projecting, as far as I can tell, and I remind myself that one never really knows what the future holds, except maybe The Shadow, and then only a select number of folk even realize what I am referring to. As friends would say, it’s a generational thing.

Geese sweep across the surface of Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The antics of the animals are fun to watch as well. Much like people watching, seeing them behave as they do and trying to determine whatever motives there may be, other than instinct. Probably a similar quest as to determining which came first, the chicken or the egg.

Two gadwall ducks paddle about Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday April 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Two wood ducks sun themselves on a log protruding from the water at Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday April 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I find it’s a good thing to sit, watch and ponder, knowing there are answers to questions I will never know, and so don’t overly burden myself with asking pondering too long. Just enjoying the moment, being present, and looking forward to my next visit to this outdoor paradise.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A lone Redwing Blackbird sits in a tree at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, April 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Backyard Neighbors in Siouxland, Sioux City

23 May

A cardinal eats a seed while visiting a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life in Siouxland like in many places is running at a much slower pace these days. While I can’t say I am bored because I get the occasional visits from some animal neighbors who drop by, sound off a greeting, and then continue on their way. These days with sunrises earlier and sunsets later, I miss some of these friends as they tend to be earlier risers than I am.

A red-bellied woodpecker looks for a snack in a backyard Sunday, March 29, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A squirrel peeks out a feeder to see if the it’s safe to leave in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, April 11, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It has been and will continue to be fun watching these critters now that I am more fully aware that they come and visit. It’s funny the things one might see while traveling at a speed less than warp.

A starling sits on a line in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, April 11, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A Hairy woodpecker sits in a tree in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, March 30, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And as the weather continues to warm and be nice with only the occasional rain showers I hope my neighbors continue to spend some time in the neighborhood.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A sudden breeze ruffles feathers on a robin in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, April 2, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

15 May

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Visitor Center Friday, May 8, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the coronavirus pandemic that is gripping the Siouxland region as well as the world really, I haven’t been venturing out as much around Siouxland except for visiting the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve. Like in most places, parks in the area are still open and the Nature Preserve has trails for people to walk about and blinds to bird watch.

A Northern Shoveler duck watches its friends at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 8, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And so I spend more time observing nature in the “wild” or as wild as it gets at Adams. Recently I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple pair of Canadian geese out one morning with their goslings in tow, swimming about Mud Lake and as the saying goes, “getting their feet wet”.

A Canadian goose and its goslings out for a swim at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 8, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Canadian geese and their goslings out for a swim at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 8, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

They were taking advantage I believe of the state of South Dakota’s governor’s newest order for relaxation of distancing and for life to getting back to normal. But then again, they may be oblivious to this blight that is affecting their human counterparts or taking pity on them, and showing off their family to us less fortunate and helping us enjoy our time and reconnecting with nature.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Heading home after a morning swim two Canadian parents and their goslings at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 8, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Venturing out of Siouxland, Lee Simmons Safari Park, Ashland, NE

13 May

Venturing out to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Venturing out of Siouxland in recent weeks has not been totally difficult as in many places around the country, but still done with a little trepidation and awareness. On a weekend, which I don’t know what possessed me as opposed doing this during the week, I took a drive out west past Omaha, NE to visit the Lee Simmons Safari Park in Ashland, an offshoot of the Henry Doorly Zoo. It was a nice weekend and many other folk had the same idea. Normally at this park folk can park and stay and watch the animals there, but because of the coronavirus the park is currently only allowing drive through visitation.

Venturing out to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors in vehicles snake their way past a herd of bison at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On my way out of the park I asked one of the attending park personnel how many people had visited and he responded he didn’t know the total, but roughly there were 400 vehicles every hour entering. I later told friends I had not seen this kind of bumper to bumper traffic since living in the Los Angeles area in the 1990’s. But still, people were patient and gracious, giving everyone a chance to stop and watch and photograph animals as we all snaked our way through the acreage.

Pelicans relax at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Venturing out to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a variety of animals, although not as much as at the zoo proper. And on this particular day the animals seemed to cooperate and allow a look at a large number of people adjusting to a different way of spending leisure time.

Kids stick their head out of the top of a vehicle to better see animals at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Children poke their heads out of a sunroof and door window to better see the bison at a pond at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bald eagle in an aviary enclosure at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Parts of Nebraska are beginning a soft reopening. Time will tell how that is going. Venturing out is desirable, but staying healthy has a stronger pull to walking about and into who knows what. Maybe some road trips onto the backroads of Iowa and Nebraska, just to take a look and see what one should visit again when the coast is clear.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A pelican “waves” at visitors driving through  the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Animals roam free at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying a drive through at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Animals relax as people driver through the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Signage directs visitors to see the animals and find other places at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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