Jeff Begins Planning for Trekking Israel in ’17

Meliteae Phoebe butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel 

Field work in Israel, the Holy Land, is well . . . a great joy for me. Knowing that few of you have walked that hallowed ground, I also know that most of you harbor thoughts of making that trip to Jerusalem, Capernum, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, and so many destinations you learned about in Sunday school.

I’ve been fortunate to go there every year since 2008. Frieda A”H passed, Rachel moved to Tel Aviv to her new job, married, and now has 2 sons. Fortunate I have been to make these annual trips. Rachel, and our extended family, refuse to allow me to stay in hotel$. These last many years I have stayed with Rachel and her husband, Uri. I love that, but we have an expression, that if you stay with family too long, ‘You begin smelling like the fish.’ So what I do is, I split my time. 5 days with them in Mishmarot, 5 days off in my Hertz rental, to the Golan, the Galilee, the Carmel region around Haifa. I photograph on those away trips, and mornings and afternoons in Mishmarot, I photograph in the fields nearby, or make short runs to Ramat Hanadiv, a superb nature reserve, just 15 minutes away.

This image of a Middle Eastern fritillary butterfly, Melitaea phoebe, was taken just a short hike from Rachel’s home. It was very early, perhaps 6:45 AM, and he was warming himself up in the early morning sun, before he began his nearly constant, frenetic flying, in search of mates.

I plan again now. My plan is to go there in April. 3-4 weeks. What to do with Petra during that extended time is another concern. My 82 pound Black russian pup is a handful, big, powerful and such Big love requires commitment. That part is not worked out yet.

The planning I’m now considering includes where to make my usual 2 extended trips. The Galilee region, way up around Mt. Meron always excites, never fails. The Upper Golan and Mt. Hermon (which by then should have lost its snow cap) also always produce. But then there is the Negev region, and the highly mysterious, very different area just south of the devilish Gaza area. Ein Gedi was OMG! several years ago, but that’s a long drive down, and a good stretch through hostile communities. I grew up in real Brooklyn, and hostile is something I no longer need, thank you.

Which butterflies are left for me to find? Believe it or not, quite a few. These fly now, those fly after, these fly after that, and those fly after all of the rest, then along show yet another these/those.

I trail alone. Finding hiking buddies is akin to finding gold. Though I’ve tried, my Christian friends, many, have bought the media crap that Israel is dangerous. Not. I knew where not to go in Brooklyn, and it’s clear where not to go in Israel. Same deal, just different crazzies.

Photographing butterflies? How many do it as I do? I do not know? I do  know that . . . I Love That Challenge, and I really enjoy capturing images like the instant one above. Oh, and I love seeing H-s handiwork, up close, and real.

Jeff . . .who went long here, but I believe you understand why.

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