Jeff’s Believe It Or Not

Hiker with Emperor butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

What a near perfect morning. I was there on Nichol Road Trail at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania (see our New Destinatons feature for more about this superb trail). Got there early, and conditions were perfect: sun, just the right temperature, and recent rains left the little creek flowing, no wind, all just right for butterflies.

The best of all? No hikers or horseback riders on the trail, to jeopardize my good butterfly looks that morning. And the butterflies were diverse, fresh and aloft. Good, very good.

Suddenly, along came 3 people, talking animatedly, walking with bouncy, buoyant gait. Two men and a woman. Well, OK, if I ever see people on this trail, on horseback or not, they almost never do more than say ‘Hi.’ They almost never divert me from my search for butterflies on this wonderful stretch of trail, that has been kind to me since 1995.

They greeted me, and they we’re curious, I guess. What, when, why, where, how. And, they were interesting, very. They were a married couple and a visiting friend. The couple had moved not too long ago from Virginia, to a homestead nearby, and they have established an organic truck farm. The 4 of us were enjoying sharing, and I must say, I decided to relax that little voice in me, telling me to get back to this morning’s burgeoning opportunities. I decided to enjoy these folks, so upbeat, so universal and so interested in all and whatever.

Then it happened! . . . . A Hackberry Emperor butterfly flew in from ? and landed on the woman. You see where he landed. Now the men were clothed as I, fully with long sleeves and long pants. She was dressed to be cool and comfortable in this 85F degree weather.

Now all 3 of my new acquaintances were buzzed by this buster of an Emperor. They wasted not a millionth of a second, insisting I capture this magical moment! I just as fast explained that I was shooting Macro-, and could only get this by a close-up shot. Me? I’m say traditional, they, for sure are Hip! (I managed property in SoHo and the East Village and Chelsea in NYNY = my creds for ID’ing cool folk). They pleaded, that I not hesitate, Get this surreal moment on film!

So I move in, feeling kind of ??? And I shot away. Both were worthy of the camera lens. Sometimes the trail provides real Believe It Or Not Moments. They, pleased, wished me well, and hiked on. I stood there, wondering what to do with the images, if any of them merited saving.