Is It Polite To Stare?

Viceroy Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Kelso Swamp, Fayette Township, PA

Me? Not really. I’ve never much been too impressed with celebrities or famous people. I don’t know whether I’ve seen more or less than most other people. New York City, with its published 8,000,000 or so residents ( I’ve no doubt it’s always been more like 14,000,000 counting those who are not documented) has lots of famous, but I’ve not much seen them. Who’ve I seen, Diana Ross in that elevator, Kirk Douglas in a Broadway theater, Mike Tyson with a blonde looker on each arm strolling in midtown New York and a couple of others. I don’t look for them, so I suppose that’s why I don’t see them.

I do admit to remembering especially beautiful women I’ve seen, and I think that has some credible connection to my attraction to fresh, beautiful butterflies.

Now I don’t know the gender of this Viceroy butterfly, seen during its time out resting in Traci’s Kelso swamp in southwestern Pennsylvania. Fresh and magnificent, it riveted me. I so hoped that it was a female, for that would be just right. She remained there long enough for me to make a decent approach, and males usually don’t tolerate approach. I shot away, staring all along at that very pronounced black line across each of her hindwings, as well as her fine wing margins, black with those broadcasting white dots.

I was once in midtown Manhattan ( NYNY ), a young man, and a young woman of stunning looks, red hair/green eyes, reached the corner when I did. We waited for the traffic light to turn green for us to cross, and I was so taken with her G-d given looks, that I must have gaped, or certainly stared, and the words would not come out (“Hi, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .).

This one is of such beauty, and the words did come, with my whisper, “Thank You G-d.”

Jeff

 

Love? No. Why?

Peacock butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

I count 1995 or so as the year that I decided to photograph butterflies. Life had always found me marching to my own drummer, and childhood had seriously taught me to learn the hard lesson of loneliness. Fortunately, I had the tools to make it on the streets of that Brooklyn, and I alway knew I could love, deeply.

Butterflies have occupied my mind and imagination since, and happily, that enthusiasm has not lessened. With Spring around the corner here in middle-Georgia, I spend much time thinking of where, what and which butterflies I would like to meet and re-meet. I’ve learned to reckon with limitation$ and to embrace the realization that I am one beat less than Ansel Adams and his ilk.

These decades have me thinking of Big questions, when I am in the field and when I am like here, at my 27″ iMac screen examining my craft work.

Large among the questions that visit me is this one. Why do I embrace, Love, images of certain butterflies? I easily include here: Coppers, Hairstreaks, Mourning cloak, Tortoiseshells, the Monarch, Common Mestra, Satyrs and the Alpines (though I’ve never seen one)?

I know, intellectually that this White Peacock butterfly, shot in the National Butterfly Center, is magnificent. Yet I am not excited when I’ve seen them, there’s no enthusiasm there. Add to that the Yellow butterflies, the White butterflies, the Checkerspots, Crescents, Ladies and the Skippers.

For a guy who has been thinking, deeply, since he was back there a 5-year old. I have not yet teased apart the reason for this ambivalence about this magnificent butterfly, the Peacock. A puzzle that. Yes?

Jeff

My Most Viewed Butterfly?

This female Easter Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly remains one of my viewed wingedbeauty images, ever. Taken at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, some nine hours west of the Empire State Building in New York City.

One of my most viewed ever.

Do be so kind as to share with me. Why have so many of you taken the time to have a look at this particular butterfly?

Jeff

That Del Webb Window on East 57th Street

Malachite Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Back when I was involved in the management of apartment buildings in New York, New York (AKA Manhattan), we’d occasionally meet for lunch near my office. Sometimes, I have to go stop into my real estate lawyer’s office in the very Art Deco Fuller Building at East 57th Street and Madison Avenue. Other times, we’d enjoy lunch and walk over to Christie’s, the world famous auction gallery, also nearby (fine art, porcelains, jewelry).

She would always stop to enjoy the East 57th Street windows of Dell Webb. Their jewelry was not her style, but we always agreed that it was, very beautiful.

Mesmerized by this Malachite butterfly last late-December 2017, it spent much time resting in this ravine trail at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. Frieda A”H (OBM) passed in 2008, how she would have so enjoyed this magnificent butterfly, deemed “U” for Uncommon all Year in southern Texas (Glassberg, A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America).

This 2019 I have plans for a re-visit to the National Butterfly Center, a return trip to the Florida Panhandle, a drive to northwestern Alabama and several other trips to find and shoot butterflies.

Each and every time I locate a butterfly that is new to me, I enjoy a mind flow of exciting thoughts. Butterflies flee or linger, either way, when they are no longer seen, I hike on, totally spiked by what I’d just seen. My thinking inevitably is that I am Blessed to be among the so very few who have seen what I had just seen. I remember those moments/minutes . . . forever.

What are you thinking when you see a super fresh butterfly or a ‘Lifer’ for you?

Jeff

Butterfly Horn of Plenty

Giant swallowtail butterfly on tithonia, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

Nine years old and in Brooklyn, New York, we lived on the very edge of development. Just beyond our street corner, there were undeveloped, hardscrabble lots. There was my dream world. After the games of punchball, stickball, stoopball and roller hockey, I’d slip away and head to my favorite ’empty’ lot on E. 57th Street and Clarendon Road. Two to three hours there, in mid-June afternoon, I’d see maybe, 4 or five butterflies. That was the normal, I thought then.

From 1975 to 1990 we lived in suburban Long Island, New York. Doug Tallamy would tell you that my high ranch-style house was typical, with its many nectar-pumping cultivars, and surrounded by hundreds of houses carefully manicured by professional landscapers, and they planted 85% with alien shrubs. My squadron of butterfly bushes (Buddleia) drew perhaps 5-6 butterflies daily.

My third house in Pittsburgh marked my big epiphany. I took Kathy’s advice and read Tallamy’s ground breaking book, and I planted 90% natives, Clethra, Coneflowers, Milkweeds, Obedient plant, Pagoda dogwoods, American plum, American hornbeam, Senna, Monkeyflower, cardinal flower, and so much more. When attendance was taken, by day’s end, a sunny day would count 10 or more butterflies about.

My move to Georgia’s Piedmont in 2017, and now my largest garden ever, most of it in full sun, hit jackpot! I’ve put in hundreds of plants, almost all native to Georgia. At any given time, 30 or 40 butterflies may be flying, with many more busily nectaring on the tens of thousand of flowers there. Squadrons of Cloudless Sulphur, Dozens of skippers, too many Gulf fritillaries to count, platoons of Buckeyes, Painted ladies and American ladies, Giant swallowtails, as many as 5 or 6 at a time, Zebra swallowtails and Zebra heliconians and  . . . . At times, it’s battlestations, for I’ve seen my first ever Great Purple Hairstreak there, and some unlikely ones, as that Palamedes swallowtail that Kindly paid a visit.

There are several excellent nurseries that specialize in natives, including Night Song Nursery and Nearly Natives Nursery, and they are just a moderate drive from my home. You visit them, and Katy and Debi and Jim are 100% friendly and helpful.

This Giant swallowtail typifies the heady times that I enjoy here in this, my garden in sunny Georgia. Butterfly horn of plenty . . . dream . . . realized.

Up from the streets. My life.

Jeff