Tag Archives: summer

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©)

Even the Birdies in Siouxland like a Cool Day, Decatur, NE

28 Jun

After living a few years in the state or Louisiana and eventually returning to the Midwest after a couple more stops during my work career I can say I am not a big fan of hot summer days and the humidity that comes with it.

A robin sits on a fence in a park on a hot day in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While visiting Decatur, NE recently walking in the town’s park along the Missouri River I spied a robin sitting on a fence post as I approached a path and noticed its reluctance in taking flight. I guessed that even birds don’t always enjoy hot, muggy days and so I skirted the path a bit so as not to disturb the bird and then watched as it also seemed to relish a fresh breeze blowing, a short lived reprieve from the hot day. But sometimes any small favors are something to savor.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A robin sits still on a fence and enjoys the breeze on a hot day in a park in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 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©)

A Pause in Activities in Siouxland, Grandview Park, Sioux City

17 May

A stormy looking day creates contrast in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The current pandemic, COVID-19 or the coronavirus as some prefer, has caused many people and places to hit the pause button here in Siouxland. For many activities. And like elsewhere, as various political bodies and people decide what time is right for folk to plunge back into “normalcy”, there will be many missing local events. Already high school graduations are being posted online and not held at the various schools with throngs of parents and friends cheering as students cross the finish line, er stage. It seems since May is already here, there will be few Memorial Day celebrations throughout the Siouxland region.

Fans enjoy the performance of The Dirty Heads playing at the 23rd annual Saturday in the Park music festival in Sioux City, Iowa, July 6, 2013.

A couple events I will miss seeing happen in Grandview Park in Sioux City. The Sioux City Municipal Band playing consecutive Sunday evening concerts and the perennial Saturday in the Park music festival. Both are free to those attending. SITP draws people from all over, as big name entertainers perform along with up and comers.

MELISSA ETHERIDGE performs during the 23rd annual Saturday in the Park music festival in Sioux City, Iowa, July 6, 2013.

 

MELISSA ETHERIDGE performs during the 23rd annual Saturday in the Park music festival in Sioux City, Iowa, July 6, 2013.

The park’s bandshell was built during the depression years by the Civilian Conservation Corps and has hosted many events. On a pleasant summer’s eve it is a nice place to sit and relax, even with a few hundred of your rowdy friends, depending on the program.

A family enjoys the Sioux City Municipal band as it plays a medley of songs at the Bandshell in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa, Sunday July 5, 2015. (Photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

But keeping one’s distance at these events would be impossible, no almost about it.

The Sioux City Municipal band plays a medley of patriotic songs at the Bandshell in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa, Sunday July 5, 2015. (Photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

And so the park will sit quiet for a few months. No music to enliven its environs or bring smiles and memories to those attending. It’s hard to imagine outdoor or indoor concerts happening any time soon. Outdoor would be safer, but there just isn’t enough space.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A quiet, tempest looking day in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, May 12, 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©)

Enjoying a Fair History Trip in Siouxland, Plymouth County Fair, Le Mars

6 Sep

The display about the farming milk industry is on display in the Round barn at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One aspect of county fairs I enjoy is a history component that some fairs offer to visitors through exhibits, celebrating Siouxland’s past and what may still be relevant in this day and age. With the Blue Bunny Ice Cream company located in Le Mars it is not a stretch when an exhibit about dairy farming is presented in the historical Round Barn at the fairgrounds. Dairy farming is not for the faint of heart. It’s a become a 24-hour operation with the larger scale “industrial” type of dairy farms. After all, it’s America, and to continue to thrive bigger is always better and these days necessary.

The Round Barn has been a fixture at the Plymouth County Fair grounds for years in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display about the milk industry and farming on display at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Growing up on a dairy farm though I remember my dad milking in the early morning hours and then again early evening. Even with a small herd, it’s a twice-a-day operation 365 days of the year with no days off and seldom any vacations. But farming is that, a calling with a dedication and a willingness to always be on call as needed to get the necessary chores done and enjoy life, while certainly hard at times, had rewards many people seldom experience.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A display about milking and its role in farming is on display at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A small display about barns is seen inside the Round Barn at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Pioneer Village has food booths, a blacksmith shop and other places to browse as well as a small outdoor stage where performances occur at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A popular place in the Historical Village at the Plymouth County Fair is the Bakery Shop in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer’s Passing Time in Siouxland, Okoboji

31 Aug

With September fast approaching and some local schools already back in session, I know I won’t get the chance to revisit the Iowa Lakes Region any time soon. But am hopeful maybe this fall I can when the leaves begin to turn. But seeing blue water on a warm day and boaters enjoying their time out is one thing that will have to wait until next summer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A group of people head out on East Lake for a day of water, sun and relaxation on East Lake in Okoboji, Iowa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland,Prairie Heritage Center, O’Brien County

25 Aug

The Prairie Heritage Center is off of state Hwy 10 outside of Peterson, Iowa seen Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I never tire of finding new places to visit in Siouxland. Places people tell me about, and which I then forget, only to “discover” it while driving about. I really need to write these suggestions down, someplace where I can remember I put my list.

The Prairie Heritage Center is located in O’Brien County, just outside of Peterson on a bit of a hill and stretches out toward a small river and grasslands. As one drives down the long lane you see an unusual sight, a pre-historic critter standing overlooking the valley below, giving the visitor an idea of what creatures may have roamed these hills millennia ago.

Art decorates and suggests a prehistoric past which may have roamed the area seen at the Prairie Heritage Center Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Benches are located near the Prairie Heritage Center near Peterson, Iowa for a chance to sit and enjoy nature and its surroundings seen Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The center contains information about the immediate area, history of what may have come before and helps one understand the natural habitat and why it is important. There are also tablets outside that contain relevant information about the area and what animals roamed prior to most of Iowa becoming a farming state.

A family looks over exhibits located inside the Prairie Heritage Center near Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Plaques give information about the area at the Prairie Heritage Center near Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Plaques give information about the area at the Prairie Heritage Center near Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Then there are a couple of easy walking trails that lead down into the valley area below the center although without some bushwhacking it’s not possible to reach the river stream that runs through the area. I thought that might have been nice to walk in the cool shade of the trees on a hot summer’s day, but the tall grass, fear of ticks and not wanting to trip on underlying tree limbs or logs under the grass, I stayed on the trail. But it’s a nice area to visit and return to, which I plan on in the fall. A worker at the welcome center said not all trees along the river are burr oak, whose leaves only turn brown in the fall after turning green in the spring. So depending on weather and conditions, there could be some nice fall shots waiting for a photographer traipsing out and about in October and November.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Trails lead away from the Prairie Heritage Center and allow visitors a closer look at the prairie and fauna seen Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Prairie Heritage Center near Peterson, Iowa sits on a hilltop overlooking a valley seen Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors climb the view overlook to see the valley below the Prairie Heritage Center near Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History in Siouxland, Kirchner Park Museum, Peterson

23 Aug

The Christian Kirchner house seen on the grounds of the Kirchner Park Museum complex in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes timing is everything as one drives about Siouxland checking out what lies over the next hill. A few times I have driven through Peterson and each time I was never lucky enough to find the Kirchner Park Museum open. Only to learn later that it’s by an appointment situation and entails a little more planning on my part next time. The home is of a pioneer who settled the area and built one of the firsts, if not the first, wood frame house. A small museum next door houses various artifacts and farming implements as far as I know. There is even a one-room school house situated on the grounds, all of which most likely holds interesting history of the area, and someday, I hope to learn what some of that history is. And better plan my next trip there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A look inside one room of the Christian Kirchner house on the grounds of the Kirchner Park Museum complex in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The porch area of the Kirchner Farm Machinery Museum on the grounds of the Kirchner Park Museum complex in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Rock Forest Schoolhouse on the grounds of the Kirchner Park Museum complex in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer Concerts in the Park in Siouxland, Sioux City Municipal Band

13 Aug

Summer is that season everywhere and here in Siouxland as well when all want a chance to relax and enjoy local festivities and other forms of entertainment. The local Sioux City Municipal Band has been playing summer concerts for a number of years. It’s a free event and people can bring lawn chairs, pack a snack or summer and sit back and enjoy the sounds which can include patriotic tunes, show tunes, movie tunes and classical tunes. Although I am sure music aficionados would not refer to the music as tunes.

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The musicians themselves spend the time to practice and then play these summer evenings which occasionally can include thunderstorms and most likely hot and humid nights towards the end of July. But they persevere as well as perspire like the rest of us, they just don’t show it. But it’s a nice event for local residents and those visiting family over the summer months. The 8-week long series varies with the music selection year to year. But their performance never varies, always enjoyable.

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Something residents can look forward too again next year now that the last performance has come and gone and as parent’s thoughts return to the coming school year and others to autumn season which is just around the corner. Instead of hearing the municipal band’s music wafting over the neighborhood Sunday nights, some will begin hearing marching band music Friday nights as the local high school football season kicks off and a different kind of entertainment marks another season of its own.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Sioux City Municipal Band performs at the Band Shell in Grandview Park as part of a free summer entertainment series Sunday, July 14, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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