JumpBack to 2004 . . . Memories Galore

Pittsburgh South Vo-Tech public school field trip participants - May 2004, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

I pitched so many of my images. Those South Vo-Tech H.S. field trips, now without provenance. We used to go on 3 each May, all wetland study trips. I always took no more than 15 kids. I never had a parent join us. This one is saved for the archives. There is a teacher along with us, because that teacher wanted to participate, and the administration caved and we had our rare 2nd adult.

Raccoon Creek State Park is 45 minutes west of South H.S., almost to the West Virginia state line. The Wetland Trail leads through diverse habitat. This year we ALL had belly laughs, for the rains days before left the trail supper muddy, and they 16 to 18 year olds never sunk so deep in mud, ever. Uncle Sam taught me to never quit, and we lived that lesson, laughing and slipping, but we persevered.

Did not ever take a class on a trip. Told all of incoming students in September that all would have a chance to go, and those who showed maturity, did their work, and cooperated . . . they would go. Backbreakers in September, after watching out ‘Slide Labs [featuring images of their friends on earlier trips], would make a 360 degree turnaround by January. Truth be told, I brought kids to meet the outdoors who were Legends on their mean Pittsburgh streets . . . and were wonderful with us in the forests, meadows, wetlands and diverse terrain.

They’re out there now, these guys would be in their late 20’s. They know that the red-wing blackbird is Agelaius phoenixes; Common cattail is Typha latifolia; Monarchs are Danaus plexippus; and Bald eagles are Haliaeetus leucocephalus. Back in their city neighborhoods, the house sparrow is Passer domesticus; the Cardinal is Cardinalis cardinalis  and the starling is Vulgaris vulgaris.

I meet them unexpectedly here and there in the city. They see me, Beam! and say “Mr. Zablow!” Next they straighten up and say ” Typha, the cattail . . . I still remember!” It sets my heart Kaboom! kaboom!

Introduce our kids to flora and fauna, let them see how much you Love and Respect it, and you will have created new legions of stewards of the environment.


Rampion Bellflower in the HolyLand

Rampion Bellflower, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

There I was in late February 2016. Winter technically was not over yet in Israel, but, tell that to the wildflowers, butterflies and all the rest of the bountiful living fauna and flora! They had no reason not to germinate, grow, roam. Temps were in the 80’s and the winter rain had been just fine.

Your vision of Israel, from the few images of it you may have seen, usually is rocky and barren. Nope! If you’ve been in and out of here over the past months and years, you’ve seen that Israel is green, right down to the edge of its southern ⅓. Desert then down to Eilat, at the southern tip.

Here I was then, at Ramat Hanadiv, very close to the Mediterranean shore. A rocky high ground, what I saw was a carpet of wildflowers. Oh, My Goodness! Butterflies were my quest, but lately my eyes lock onto beautiful wildflowers, especially those new to me.

Rampion Bellflower. New to me. Now to capture a good image. I shot away. Pop, pop, pop . . . . . . .

I favored this image of a sweet HolyLand wildflower. I  was pleased to notice this little insect, and that tiny bonus, is Good, Very Good.

My plan is to return to Ramat Hanadiv, Mishmarot, Jerusalem, the Golan, the Galilee, Carmel, but, so far not a one of you has hearkened to the call: go and trail with Jeff, in . . . the HolyLand.


Eye Candy on Mule Wallow Road?

Long-Tailed Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow on Mule Wallow Road trail in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

All that was missing was Johnny Mathis, sweetly serenading as I worked the edges of the trail known as Mule Wallow Road. It took  awhile, but there I was last August 2015, the proverbial kid in a candy shop, pirouetting from one new butterfly to another, new wildflowers, new flies, new insect, new botany. All those years enjoying the shares of others, in Florida, requited, for there I was, for 4 days, in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, in the northern Florida Panhandle.

This Long-tailed skipper butterfly was fresh and clean, and the Tall Ironweed blossoms must have been sweeter than sweet. How am I sure. This usually skittish butterfly almost totally disregarded my approach, and allowed me the honor of shooting away. The background here, green. A soothing, rich green. Johnny is still singing, I can just hear him.

Short of a nasty late summer tropical storm, the plan is to return to Georgia on the 8th of September, when the Liatris are in full show. They say that when that happens, butterflies flock to them. Sometime after the 8th, my goal is to get down there for about 4 days, staying in Perry, Florida. Alone again, naturally.

You know, you know how expectant I can be. Diagnosis? Just about incurably expectant. Guilty as charged. Doing what for me, comes . . . . . . . . y!


And Who are You?

Rare Grasshopper, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Yehudiya National  Park, Golan Heights, Israel

Working the trails at the Yehudiya National Park in the Golan. This northeastern part of Israel is lightly settled, and features lush green valleys, bordered by low mountains, all pointing north to majestic Mt. Hermon. The drive from here to Mt. Hermon is about an hour and a half. On the bottom of Mt. Hermon’s northern face, right there . . . Syrian regulars, ISIS, “Rebels,” US ‘advisors’ and aircraft, Russian ‘advisors’ and aircraft, Hezbollah from you-don’t-want-to-go-there Lebanon, Turkish forces, Kurdish militia and Iranian regular and irregulars . . . are all in a deadly minuet of kill, kill.

Here there’s peace, tranquility and G-d’s creatures. Butterflies were OK that morning, but I cannot say they were abundant. The wolves that roam this park and this region, well, I did not see them these 5 days here, even though I roamed freely, and was “alone again” me, myself and I.

Smack dab in the Middle East, knowing that so many of you, yes you, yearn to visit there??? And, who did I ‘bump’ into? This nicely camoflouged . . . grasshopper? It allowed a lengthy, close approach, just moving around that boulder a bit (boulders strewn everywhere, as if G-d was sprinkling giant salt).

I presume a grasshopper? If my Israeli friends come by, perhaps we will learn more. For the meanwhile, I have to say I was fascinated. It was about 92 degrees hot, 92F in the Middle East is way hotter than it is in Brooklyn, or Pittsburgh. 92F and our little cutie here is sunning itself on a boulder, for a good many minutes. Wow!

April 2017! Sound enticing, anyone?