That Del Webb Jewelry 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 near the border wall, 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?


Where Have You Been All My Life?

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

Count just 10 months ago, and I was here, right where you see this ephemeral Malachite butterfly. Too bad you were not there with us. You would have seen this almost child-like smile on my face, when they quietly beckoned me, ‘Come Jeff, you’ve got to see this!’

Our Malachite butterfly was a singleton, resting peacefully in the dimly lit corridor, bordered by tall, thick bush. The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, near the border wall and Mexico. It remained there for some half hour or so, changing its leaf lounge 2 times, each time resuming its unhurried rest.

Described as “Uncommon,” I knew right then that this was something Special, coming along at this point in my journey. Hey, Look at Me! Meeting the hidden Gems of H-s work, nicely beyond the middle of life.

This repeat of ‘Where Have You Been All My Life’ has included our Malachite, that Erato Heliconian, a bunch of Metalmarks, the famed Gemmed Satyr, Red Rim, Common Mestra, Milbert’s Tortoiseshell, Georgia Satyr, Eastern Pygmy Blue, Regal Fritillary, Zebra Heliconian and more, much more (Leonard’s Skipper for one).

Just can’t find enough gigs to share my work/enthusiasm. When young people are in the room, I urge them to consider studying butterflies as career, university teaching, and I suggest, find a rare, little known butterfly and embrace it, know it, and kind of own it. Make yourself, I tell them, The expert on that beautiful mysterious butterfly, and you may well be traveling the world, sharing of it, and that will be on their ‘dime’ and more will invite you to come and talk and hot-wire their people and . . .

Meeting the real celebrities, not the plastic ones of Hollywood, TV, sports or politics, now, and I hope in the coming years, whispering “Where Have You Been All My Life?” again and . . .


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 near the border wall. 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 Butterfly

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 near the border wall. 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 Beautiful Wings

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 near the border wall.  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.