Hermon Iris Revisited (Protected)

Hermon Iris (Protected) butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Northernmost Golan, Israel

On March 28th, 2017 I fly El Al back to Israel. Regretably, you will not be sitting on either side of me. I pledge though to search for worthy images, like this one, enjoyed in 2013. to share with you when I return. This ’13 post evoked other memories for me: my youthful things for redheads with green eyes and . . . my time spent in the dressing room of the Rockettes! Butterflies & rare irises can do that to you, connect to extravagant beauty heretofore unthinkable.

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Hermon Iris photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Northernmost Golan,  Israel

Don’t we all have memories that warm us up when they flash into our consciousness? This image of a Mt. Hermon Iris just did that for me. It brought back memories of a certain moment on a streetcorner in Manhattan (New York, NY), one morning on  campus in college, a stand of native Columbine I once had, and sooo much more. Oh, and then there were the magical minutes when as a college-poor messenger, I  was given a package to deliver to a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall…and instead of taking it from me, the Rockettes’ staff said, “Yeah, take it in there to her”…into the Rockettes’ dressing room I went…’Nuf said?

This was such an experience. On a trail is northernmost Golan,Israel, near the security fence insuring that Israel and Lebanon stay safely apart, we turned a corner of the trail, and there they were…Iris

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Teary Moments . . . .

Earring Series - Jeff with Black Swallowtail Earrings (Best shot), at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

This is the shot with the Eastern Black Swallowtails fully on my right ear.

She battled Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma from the moment she was diagnosed, nearly eight years and Stem Cell Transplant later. Leukemia’s ‘side-effect’ so weakened her, that the Hillman Cancer Center specialist told her, at her demand, that there would be no last-ditch sprint to the NIH in Washington, DC, for if she could not walk in the door, they would not treat her. She thanked him, demanded that we all go home for our Sabbath night meal, and passed away some 3 hours later.

Frieda A”H was in Hillman for a total of 150 nights, and her last 2 years were horrific. She was home one-half of the time those last years. She demanded that I continue my field excursions to find and photograph butterflies. She loved my work, and she loved beauty.

There have been less than a handful of times that I have come to tears in the field, after butterflies have startled me with inexplicable behavior? The first was with that Mourning Cloak. Now I must stop for a moment, for that Mourning Cloak rocked my boat.

This experience, chronicled in our new Feature, ‘Jeff’s Earrings,’ took me to a tear in each eye, with Sylbie there to capture it on film. My strong, strong resolve to not cry before women (Yes, guilty as charged) prevented me from a full cry.

When we posted ‘Jeff’s Earrings,’ I invited friends on NABA-CHAT to see it, and many hundreds accepted my invitation. Dozens of Georgians came too. Teary moments in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia. The best place to see scores of different butterflies, no better place from Toronto to the Florida Panhandle.

Some have shared experience with butterflies that reduced them to pudding, so to speak. What do you make of this? Why? What are the associations that we make that open the floodgates of emotion? I ask you this.


Every Step In a Bog is . . . .

Barbara Ann Case, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

Who among you has ever walked in an ancient acid, spaghnum moss bog? My statistical staff assures me that approximately 0.26% of you have, and ever will. Studying for my B.S. degree at Hunter College (now part of CUNY), bogs may have been mentioned/referenced once or twice, and remained a mystery to this Brooklyn boy. Bogs, bald eagles, beavers, native orchids, ospreys and regal fritillary butterflies? In text books yes, but few among us, in those days, busted-out and hit the road to find far distant fens and true bogs.

Brooklyn boy is now grown, and that Toyota Tundra is very road worthy. New places, new adventures, new friends. Real, Honest to Goodness acidic bogs, 10,000+ years old. Remnants of glaciers long receded, their moss, cranberries, Tamarck pines and other flora now retain a solid acidic pH, that acid environment deters most forms of life, but provides a home to flora and fauna that prefer pH’s lower than 7. Bacteria that exist in other places, cannot readily survive in an acid bog, and that creates fascinating scenes, like this one.

We’re in far western New York State, at a true sphagnum moss bog, owned and protected by the Audubon Society of Buffalo. You’d never find it from the road, some 1/2 mile away, through primitive trail. Bogs endure, but at the same time they harbor rare living things, like the Bog Copper butterflies that we shared with you some weeks ago. Best to keep most folks away, especially those who have their own designs and don’t ascribe the live and let live.

Every step in a bog has your boots (waders?) gently sinking some 2-5″ down, and that, after an hour or more, begins to stress and exhaust your calf muscles, for they must respond/adjust each and every step you take. Barbara Ann here, watched me go off trail at one point, to carefully pursue a Bog copper, only to see me quickly sink down not 5″ but some 20″. Did that alarm me? Uh, well, Um . . . yes, because once that hidden sphagnum moss undermat no longer supports you, well one could go . . . down. How far? Have no wish to know, Truth be Told.

You know, you stand in a bog, and it is entrancing. Unchanged for 12,396 years . . . that’s heady for a man who in his head, is a kid from bricks/mortar/asphalt Brooklyn, New York.


Agree or Disagree?

Years and years into photographing butterflies now, and you would think that I would be steadily approaching, well, saturation. If that makes sense to you, surprise! The challenges, opportunities and thinking continues, unabated, and not diminished. Here’s an example of a present new idea of mine.

I shot this exposure of an American Copper some years ago. When I light boxed the dozen or more images of it, I was very Happy with this one. Very. Some of you may think: I see things here that Jeff likes. Others of you may think: Why does this image stand out from the nearly 800 in wingedbeauty’s Media Library?

Me? I have always liked this share of the head. Michal has 2 Shih Tzus, and they used to refer to them as ‘pookies.’ Small, and very cute. Munchkin and Shnookie were, and are, even at 12 and 13 years. This head struck me at first sight as a ‘pookie.’ Eyes, palps and sweet antennae. The left wings, ventral sides, are clear, colorful and dramatically colored. Those wings are fresh and not bird-struck. The legs are nicely shared, and set in a way that pleases the eye. The plant stem that this Copper is standing on boasts those fascinating fibers over its length, and that stalk is set at a slight angle, adding personality to the image. The leaves toward the right of the image bear red borders/veins, further jazzing up the shot. Bonus to all is the background, a comely green, minty and persuasive to the eye.

Digging further, a Georgia friend recently shared that she had never yet seen an American Copper butterfly. As soon as she wrote that, my mind shot to this look, and that was the ‘seed’ that led to this very post. Thanks Nancy.

Sometime soon we will add a new Feature to wingedbeauty.com, Jeff’s 8 (10?) Favorite Images. This should be amongst those 8 or 10, for how many times I’ve scrolled down the Library, and stopped to smile at this one.

Do you Agree or Disagree that this photo deserves broad exposure?


Reminiscing With The Milkweed Butterflies

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

The Danaids, or Milkweed butterflies are best known to Americans as the Monarch, the Queen and the Soldier. Right now, Monarchs are especially on the forefront of butterfly fret, knowing that recent reports have their numbers seriously down. That ‘fret?’ Will they return to us in Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Ontario, in good number?

Examine these danaids. Have you seen them in your own South Carolina, Michigan, Maine or West Virginia? Well, no. This is the Plain Tiger butterfly, and it flies in Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Syria (if that carnage has left any survivors). Cech and Tudor, in my favorite field guide, Butterflies of the East Coast (Princeton University Press) tantalizes with this: “The Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus) was “described” as early as 3500 B.C., in a painting on an Egyptian tomb wall.”

I’m liking my photo here much, as I slowly begin my preparation for my flight in late March to Israel, for a reunion with Plain Tigers, a menu of Middle Eastern butterflies, and my daughter, grandsons and extended family. Once again, I pledge to travel throughout the north, and will not leave my bootprint on the hot borders that demarcate where Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Syria (Russia, ISIL, Al Queda, the Rebels, Hezbollah, Iran, and other despicables) begin.

Reminiscing wth the Danaids, whose flight is “elegant and gliding” (Cech and Tudor), whether at the Butterflies & Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia or within a short hike of Mishmarot, Israel.