In Brooklyn, We Boys Called It a ‘Do-Over’

Little Metalmark butterfly on bloom, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

Like it was yesterday. Playing on East 58th Street, with nary a car going by to bother us, our street had an amazing number of boys. I once  counted those boys on my street, who were in a 3-year age range, including me? . . . 30 boys!

We played all of our sports on that asphalt street, punchball, stickball, football, roller hockey ( never liked that last, as my nutso! friends now had hard sticks in their mits . . . ).

When a kid didn’t like how something went, and felt he had basis, he’d yell . . . “Do-Over.” We were a tough, yet fair bunch of boys, and we honored that when it was fair and square.

This 2016 image of a Little Metalmark, captured in Shellman Bluff, Georgia, ranks for me as a reasonable call for a Do-Over. They are among the tiniest of American butterflies, they nectar on these min-blooms, themselves inches above the ground. Shooting this look on your belly, risks what happened to me on Jekyll Island, culminating in that tick holding fast to my chest, and a subsequent visit to Urgent Care in Eatonton.

The only way to capture this Sweetheart of an eye-pleaser is to crouch down, all the way down, and talk to my Macro-lens, urging it to do it, do it well, and make Papa happy. Now, know that it was unendingly ultra-humid, and each time I sought to score images, the sweat reached my headband, and soon overran it, salty sweat now pouring into my eyes. Got the picture?

Then I share this, and I share how much I wanted those silvery stripes to sing to you. My new lens ( the last quit on me ) has the built-in Image-$tabilizer feature, so . . . .

Jeff wants . . . a  . . . Do-Over!

Thanks to Nancy and John, sincerely.

Jeff

Setting the Table for the Kids

Mating Regal Fritillary Butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

Our great grandkids? The awful news that washes over our radios, televisions, iPhones and well, some time ago, our newspapers, does every once in a while trigger thoughts of How’re We Doing? Here in the USA, there in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, that tiny miscreant, North Korea? Some of us bite the bait, so to speak, and get caught up in a media malaise.

Wonderfully, those who come visit here, come to see, are the folks who largely deny that unpleasant ‘blanket’ of melancholy to settle over our heads. We look for beauty, wonder, awe, excitement, the thrill of the discovery, and the bounty of the Cr-ator.

We regrettably do have concerns. One that heads the list for me, and  perhaps for you, is what will we be providing for our grandchildren and great grandchildren? I’m now reading Travels of William Bartram, edited by Mark Van Doren . . . ‘an unabridged edition of this classic with all 13 original illustrations’ ( Dover Publications, NY 1955, first published in 1928 ). It is the full account of British botanist Bartram, as he scoured Florida and Georgia, shortly after America’s Independence, seeking useful botany. It is Amazing! 99.899% of America was undeveloped then, and the natural landscape was Rich in life, all kinds of life.

Now, when I walk through Frick Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and search its 900 +/- acres, I cannot escape the reality, that more than 70% of the botany that I see is . . . alien. And the fauna? Where is that carrier pigeon, the cougar, rattlesnakes, and that brings us here, to this view of a pair of mating Regal Fritillary butterflies. They used to fly in Frick. They used to fly from southern Maine to the Florida Panhandle ( corrections would be more than welcome ). Gone from the states that stack themselves Maine to the north and Florida to the south. Fact is, this huge meadow in central Pennsylvania is the only place that they still can be found. Omg! Only a few hundred Regals, in those what, 15 states?

So, we share this graceful, important image, of sheer fragility. What table are we Americans setting for our grandkids and great grandkids, as we continue the rush to build, develop, and bulldoze?

Jeff

 

 

Stop, Stare & Admire . . . .

Spring Larkspur Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Spring Larkspur Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

What stops you in your tracks? Increasingly, less and less sets our emergency brakes, in this ever more sophisticated world. That’s unless you are a ‘naturalist.’

A naturalist consciously sets out from home to destinations near and far, for the purpose of  feasting on  natural beauty. Genuine naturalists stop often, to stare, ponder and admire. They refuse the urge to pick, touch, upset, or nudge the botany and animals that good luck sets before their eyes. What do they want to happen? They want to come upon unique ferns, wildflowers,  mushrooms, herbaceous plants, woody plants, carnvirouous plants, wetland plants, plants of fens, bogs and swamps. Plants of arid  habitat, boreal habitat, subtropical habitat, mountainous habitat, and plants of valleys, crevices, and microhabitats.

We’re sharing this wildflower that always stops Jeff in his tracks. Spring larkspur. Uncommon, of fascinating flower form and blessed with color that nears indescribable. Who? How? Where? Why? Jeff stops, stares and admires.

Jeff

Daddah Da Da Dah Da!

Earring Series - Blackswallowtail butterflies coupled, photographed by Jeff Zablow at

A better image of the pair, with the female’s dorsal side in view

Can’t sound the trumpets. for I have no trumpets. But these last days have produced Big News, news neglected by Reuters, the AP, Washington Post and the Atlanta Journal-Consitution.

The news is potentially very good news. In Eatonton, Georgia, there is that gem of a Habitat that I’ve posted about. Visited it 9 times in these last three years, each visit a 688 miles drive from Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania. For our international followers, this Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat is in the Deep South, east of the city of Atlanta, and 2 hours west from the Atlantic coast and beautiful Savannah.

Why did I go there so many times? A hard-working visionary, Virgina C Linch, with sweat, tears and a little bit of blood, prodded several volunteers to work with her to create a butterfly oasis in the center of a small city, Eatonton. They plowed, dug and hauled in topsoil and compost, and converted a brownfield ( at one time an aluminum factory and employee housing ) into butterfly . . . well, heaven. 90% of the 29,715 plants and trees set in there were native, most chosen because they were butterfly magnets, hostplants for butterfly caterpillars.

It worked. It flourished. On any given morning, I would ID 20 or more different species of butterflies on the wing there. These Eastern Black Swallowtail  butterflies were there in 2016. Do they not challenge your beauty gauge indicator?

So . . . just a few weeks ago, the city of Eatonton, county seat of Putnam County, announced that the land, leased to the Habitat ( for a nominal fee ) . . . was to be sold to a developer!! Virginia Linch was stunned. She, without any complaint, had logged 256,881 hours of work in it, spent small  bundles of her own money, smiled heartily when folks made contributions for plants and material, and went there every day after work, something that is hard for us to get our head around. Finish work, and then go spend hours in the heat, weeding, watering, planting. Who today commands such fortitude?

A good number of folks let there voices be heard! What? Scuttle this beautiful site, deprive our kids of this experience? Destroy perhaps the 2nd best location in the US to see a wide variety of butterflies? Created a mini-quake in Eatonton, and got certain anonymous folks really riled up.

A meeting was called. People spoke to the Eatonton City Council. The Council made an offer. The City will move it to a permanent location, provide personnel and equipment to do so, enable the move to be after the hot summer weather, provide city water to the site, provide bathrooms on site and more.

Virginia took several days to think, prayed much, and then called a meeting of her stalwarts. Her decision ( I told her that she could easily pack her pruning shears and never look back ) . . . . . . . . . .She would accept the Eatonton offer!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!!

Imagine in a few years, the 1st Annual Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Convention? Will you be there? Will Robert Michael Pyle be the Keynote speaker at the seminars that surely will be part of this gala 3-4 day event???

Don’t you love a good end to a worthy story?

Jeff