Hung In My Home

Tawny Hackberry butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Of the 60,000 or 80,000 exposures I’ve shot over the years, a handful have been printed and archivaly framed by artisans of their respective trades. Which captures did I choose to have Gerry Hare print in his darkroom?

I charged Gerry with printing images that moved me, pleased me. Images that were nearly impossible for me to capture. Images whose color and form and overall Geshtalt made me Happy, fulfilled.

Our new home in North Macon, Georgia has several of my favorites, framed prints done meticulously done by Gerry, as his renowned father, Red Hare taught him to do.

This may well be my all time favorite. It hangs in my home, a reminder of the morning that I snapped it, on that Fuji Velvia film, on the Wetland Trail in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. I felt that G-d was with us that early morning, having set up a butterfly then new to me. A butterfly so elegant as to take my breath away.  It’s wings were fresh, their colors among my favorite browns, creams and near blacks. Its wings seemed too large for this good-sized butterfly. It’s body, a miracle of engineering. Its antennae knobs, as tiny headlights in the early morning haze.

That this Tawny Emperor (Hackberry) butterfly remained in place while I maniacally copped some 40-50 exposures, that too was a gracious Miracle. Was I nearly silently begging G-d to keep this mystical mirage there, keep it in place? Yes, to that.

Hung here in my home, with Hebrew calligraphy set in the frame matting, that hand done by a revered, now long gone Rabbi. It’s translation?  ‘How Great Are Thy Creations, G-d?”

The most beautiful Tawny to have flown in the USA in the last 200 years? Truth be told . . . I Think so.

Jeff

Butterfly Most Likely

Hackberry Emperor Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

You’re working your way along the trail, forest to your right and left. Raccoon Creek State Park, in far western Pennsylvania. The heat of the day is beginning to be felt this morning. Sun is up, and it’s vaporizing the dew still resting on the billions of leaves around you. It’s the summer, and the heat is becoming a factor. Beads of sweat have got to be forming on your forehead, though they are still bearable, and don’t slow you down.

You see her out of the corner of your eye, a slur of comely browns, white, black and, is that cream? Moments pass, as you continue up trail. Then . . . there she is, didn’t wait for introductions, dismissive of personal space, and without concern about your personal situation, and your sense of propriety.

Who is the brazen female, who is now upon you, you a total stranger? The USA butterfly most likely to land on you, a Hackberry Emperor, found in wooded habitat, especially where hackberry bushes and trees are to be found. Maine to California, Miami to North Dakota and to Texas, too.

Did she choose you for your shmeksy! good looks, your come-and-get-me musky takeaway? Your kindness of heart, good deeds or connection with the Almighty? OK, for your really good choice of field get-up?

No, no, no. She’s on you for something else, most likely to score some perspiration salts from the now sweaty neck, or to broadcast her territorial claim to that stretch of trail, or just for the ride. Most don’t understand how fortunate they would be, to travel down the road a bit with you . . . she does. She’s a Hackberry Emperor.

Jeff

Hackberry Emperor (In the Delta)

Delta Blues? Not on this Trip. This time, it’ll be Delta Browns and greens . . .

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Hackberry emperor butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Greenville, Mississippi

We drove nearly 900 miles from Pittsburgh, down to Greenville, Mississippi. It helped that my grade school teachers made the spelling of this beautiful state an absolute must. You had to be able to spell M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I. Greenville was a bustling cotton town, cotton brought to the docks was loaded on ships and sent to all corners of the globe. Although Greenville no longer thrives, the wildlife in the Mississippi delta region was all new to me.

Well, almost all new. Asterocampa celtis is also found in Pennsylvania. We have posted several images of our northern hackberrys. The Hackberry emperors and Tawny emperors (Asterocampa clyton) flying in western Mississippi were impressively rich in color. Their appealing coloration often led to confusion, i.e., was this one here a Hackberry or a Tawny? Leroy Percy State Park offered both hackberrys. Ours here is a Hackberry emperor.

A trip…

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Butterflies With Outsized Wings?

Tawny Hackberry butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Tawny Hackberry butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Jim Gilreath today posted an exceptional image of a Giant swallowtail butterfly. It was shot in the Butterfly & Blooms Briar Patch in Eatonton, Georgia. The same Briar Patch Habitat that I have visited several times this year. You can see Jim’s photo on the Butterfly & Blooms in the Briar Patch Facebook page. A stunner it is.

Certain to catch your eye is the apparent oversize of the Giant’s wings. They look well, too big for the butterfly, too big to control, to coordinate, too big for successful flight.

That brought me to remember this image, of a Tawny Emperor butterfly, I happened onto in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, my home. As I was both marveling at its stately beauty, and shooting away, this angle, that angle, this shutter speed, bracketing that shutter speed . . . I was thinking, Holy Cow! those wings look way too big for this butterfly to fly with. After it tolerated dozens of exposures early, early that morning, it answered my query, when it zoooomed away, in a straight, high speed trajectory, Gone!

I think Jim’s Giant swallowtail does have outsized wings, and I think this Tawny emperor’s wings are also oversize. How, with Big, Big wings, do they fly so well, so fast, so directed, so gracefully? Is their extraordinary flight meant as a gift to us, to tease and tantalize our senses?

Oh and this print, dark room processed by Gerry Hare, and archivally matted and framed, hangs in our dining room, for all to see, for me to enjoy, daily. Another original print, that too printed by this master, Mr. Hare, hangs in a home in Georgia. Both mats include cut-outs, with a scholar’s original calligraphy in Hebrew, roughly translated, ‘How Great Are Your [G-d’s] Works.’

Jeff