What Do You Most Want Too See?

Malachite butterfly (4) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

This was the last week of 2018. We flew to San Antonio and drove the rental car to McAllen, Texas. Why? We went to find and photograph rare butterflies of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Texas. Butterflies that you would never see in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Montana, Ohio or Virginia.

This was at the National Butterfly Center, in Mission Texas. Bingo! This Malachite butterfly, that Erato Heliconian (!!!), the Red Rim butterfly, Mexican Bluewing, Tropical Leafwing, the list of new and rare to Very Rare was long, and exciting. So much new, so little same old, same old.

We recently raised the question, do you think that we should travel long and far, or should we avoid those airport terminals, crowds, TSA looking at me (I served) as if I was a potential I don’t know what? The rental car that I treat better than my own (you let me use your car, I treat it like gold) and those many drives through places unfamiliar.

Comes now this question. What would you rather see, hard to score images of butterflies you’ve never seen before, even if those images are sometimes less than ideal OR photos of butterflies that you may have seen before, those well east of the Mississippi River, but photos that capture very fresh, very beautiful individuals?

Than comes the followup questions? Are you happy to see images of butterflies in the HolyLand? I’ve gone to Israel almost every year since 2008. Sometimes I’ve posted an image of a HolyLand butterfly that is really hard to get, only to find tepid feedback from y’all.

I sure hope you read this, and hope that you share.


Reflections On Seeing A Malachite

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

I’ve been to Tiffany’s flagship store on New York City’s Fifth Avenue many times. I’ve been to Pre-Sale Exhibitions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s as well. Frieda A”H would try on solitaire diamond rings, jade rings, earrings, necklaces, extraordinary broaches, and bracelets at these sales of magnificent jewelry. I toured exhibitions before sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Doyle and more back then. I had an itch for fine porcelains, American and Flemish oils, Homer watercolors, Bierstadt, Salymon von Ruisdael, Hudson River School paintings, and so much more.

I worked in New York City in the ’80’s. Folks were dressed well back then, very well. Madison Avenue was the end all of end all’s for well dressed women and men. People watching at the Met, MOMA, Brooklyn Museum, and all of New York’s museums was special, very special.

I also changed in the 1980’s and G-d became important to me. My Biology degree, teaching High School Biology in the ’70’s and then from 1994 to my retirement reaffirmed my love for botany and fauna. Then came my increased interest in butterflies and wish to capture and share their beauty on this blog.

This image of a Malachite is from the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. This wild beauty exceeds the finest I have seen in all the places listed above. It mightily underscores my awe when I am blessed to encounter living beings of extraordinary beauty, as this Malachite.

This is why I do what I do. This is what eludes the comprehension of most who know or meet me. But that’s OK.


Malachite Butterfly with its Wings Closed

Malachite butterfly (Ventral) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

I’m standing there, fixed in place, just 24″ from this Malachite butterfly. Fifteen minutes did it rest there, on these very same leaves, with its big wings fully open. The 5 or 6 of those in the area took their turns, approaching and scoring exposures of those open wings. I shared one of my best images just a few days ago.

With the self-assurance of a Reagan or a Churchill, it kept this perch, and closed those yummy! beautiful wings. When my turn came, I again shot, shot, shot. A perfect Malachite butterfly, seen every so often in the National Butterfly Center, Mission, Texas.  The buzz amongst the others was that this was the finest one they had ever seen.

Jeff stood there, fully captivated by the magic of the moment. Me, here in the Rio Grande River Valley, scoping a Malachite. You have to be me to fathom the triumph of those moments. I arrived in McAllen, Alamo and Mission, Texas, never having been here before. I was stunned!! I had painted this picture of these 3 towns as dusty hamlets, with one traffic light apiece. Nope. Each had a minimum of 80,000 or more people, heavy traffic, and development ongoing and planned.

That said, the National Butterfly Center with the wisdom of the sages, had bought and established this reserve, and the whole plan works, for here I am gazing at a wild, gorgeous Malachite, just miles from the Mexican border.

I felt like William Bartram, some what, 300 years ago, as he travelled through Georgia and Florida, and described them as we would describe a present day, Shanghai La. That’s how I felt, alone for minutes on a sunken trail with this Malachite.


The Malachite Butterfly

Malachite butterfly (facing right) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

More than 20 years of field work, seeking butterflies. All that time, here and there, I’d see shared images of Malachites. Big, big butterflies sometimes seen in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and in southern Florida. No problem trying to figure out what they are when you spot them, for there’s nothing else like them. You think you see a Malachite, then it’s a Malachite. The size, rich minty green encapsulated amongst dark border, leaves no room for doubt. Problem was, I’d never seen one. Texas delivered my first ever Malachite.

Our previous wingedbeauty post was an Erato Heliconian butterfly. Uncommon in the LGRV, but onstage for my last week in December 2017 visit to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. I was just miles from Mexico.

This Malachite here was seen relaxing on a broad leaf, in dappled shade. It was very close to where I’d seen the Erato. A fine, cooperative subject, it held this pose for some time, enabling some 4 or 5 folks the opportunity for good shots.

Many minutes after holding this wings fully open pose, it closed it’s wings, providing us with many minutes to study and photograph its ventral wings. It was magnificent. Some of the others had seen Malachites before, and I heard it said that this was the finest one they had seen. Good, very Good.

Me? I was thinking again of the craft of the D-signer, and I was reminded of those moments in my life when I was close to celebrity. They poised; coiffured and confident. That’s our Malachite here.

Awe, elegance, those kinds of words shoot into your thinking.