Fighting To Look Tough

Earring Series - Jeff with Black Swallowtail Earrings (Best shot), at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

This is the shot with the Eastern Black Swallowtails fully on my right ear.

I fought every kid I had to back on the streets of Brooklyn. Yes, I was good friends with a bunch of kids who’s family business was well, sort of organized crime. Sometimes I had to fight them too, that’s how it was.

I fought some in the Boys’ Club in Flatbush, and I did OK.

I fought some in high school, those who thought they would roll over me. That went just fine.

I joined the 2nd How 187th Artillery Guard unit in Brooklyn, friends were a couple of young Irish cops. I fit in just fine. They decided to go to Officers Candidate School, urged me to go too. Frieda A”H asked what does it benefit me with, and I told her better pay, live in the BOQ (Batchelor Officers Quarters), eat in the Officers Mess (better than 99% of Manhattan fine restaurants) and get a driver to drive me everywhere I go (the driver I got was a made Mob guy, and a very good driver). All that time I had to look tough, act tough . . . which was fine ’cause I already was kind of tough . . .

In John Adams High School, they made me a Dean for the Freshman Boys, and that meant disciplining the sons of many men in the John Gotti organization. That was fine, and there too I had to act . . . tough.

New York City Public Schools refused to promote me to Assistant Principal (they were not looking to promote a tough, young, OCS-grad Jew back then) so I eventually began managing small apartment buildings on very, very good Manhattan streets. There again I had to look tough, for my tenants, my office staff, my vendors and trades people, and the sometimes mob connected folks I sometimes had to deal with.

My whole life I’ve had to look tough and be tough. Men don’t cry, I had heard.

When Frieda finished her nearly 8 years of battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, the day the doctor told me, at her request, that there were no more new chemo- treatments for her, it was a Friday night. She first sent me home to prepare the Friday night Sabbath turkey for me and the kids (grown, they came because her fight was . . . ) She then sent them home, too. Moments after I put the Turkey on their plates, the telephone rang . . . . The nurse said we must come NOW, there was no time. I sped to Shadyside Hospital (part of enormous UPMC). Frieda had died some 5 minutes before we got there. I cried. I cried a lot. I forgot being/looking tough. I cried, loudly.

Sylbie was taking these images of this incredible Black Swallowtail visit, from my hat, shoulders and eventually to my ear. A pair of coupled magnificent black swallowtails, resting . . . on my ear. Sylbie was right there, and, I tried to shield tears, hide them, but I don’t know how well I did, for I cried. I forgot the need to look tough, to swagger, to fear nothing. I cried, for I had no doubt that Frieda was there, right then, and that she was responsible for those OMG! finest of butterflies, perching on my ear.

No, I stopped trying to look tough. Just long enough to . . .

Jeff

Once Upon A Time, There Was A Very Beautiful . . .

Black Swallowtail butterfly and chrysalis, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch, Eatonton, GA

Black Swallowtail butterfly and chrysalis

Each and every time I prepare a post for winged beauty, I scroll down through the 1,000 or more images in our Media Library. So many memories, people I worked the trails with, experiences running from incredible to mundane. All those times that you were not there with me.

There are several images stored in our Media Library, that I always slow down for. Mostly because they so sing to me, their beauty so extraordinary. Wingedbeauty.com has always been my way to share the beauty of butterflies, i.e., the magnificence of G-d’s handiwork.

This is one of those that urge me to stop and enjoy. She has just exited that empty chrysalis that you see in the background. She’s resting as she dries her huge wings. Just the most magnificent Eastern Black Swallowtail female.

Her wings are as ebony black as there can be. Her coral spots, blue flashes, white scallops are set in that pattern seen only in Black Swallowtails. Tails are intact, abdomen and thorax covered with milk-white spots. Her left eye (compound) is deeply black, her proboscis can be seen and her antennae are as dark as night. She sports an elegance that is unmistakable.

She’s the beauty featured in our Jeff’s Earrings series. She and her buff male, also newly eclosed (just exited from his chrysalis) brought a tear to my eye, for Frieda A”H passed 8 years before, and when those exquisite swallowtails finally moved, to perch on my ear, Oh, how I knew that Frieda was somehow responsible for such a surreal experience.

This is my capture, and Jeff’s Earrings were shot by Sylbie, who inexplicably arrived at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat I, at just the best possible moment. I deftly handed her my Canon, and Sylbie photographed the Jeff’s Earrings as they unfolded.

I look and re-look here, and I’m so proud that this one is . . . mine.

Jeff

Do Butterflies Commute?

Today’s special visitor was a very big Black Form Female Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. We posted some pics on Facebook. I commented that there’s a good chance that she came from Virginia’s Briar Patch Habitat, just one mile from our native plants garden. Came to partake of our Bottlebrush Buckeye bush, now in splendid full bloom. It may well be that the super fresh Giant Swallowtail also flew to us from the Briar Patch.

Virginia C Linch posted a Comment to my Facebook post, and it got me to thinking.

If butterflies are especially attuned to aromatic emissions from active flowers, what is the working range that their sensory organs can effectively track? In other words, did our 2 extraordinary butterflies follow aromatics from our 303 Garden to the vicinity of the Briar Patch Garden? Is that how they came to visit us, following a trail of aromatic hydrocarbons? Curt, Phil, Virginia, Ken, Bob, NABA friends, Holli, Rose, Nancy and John, Dave, Dave W, Bill, Deepthi?

The accompanying photo? Me at the Habitat, working to score a Skipper image.

Jeff

MIA? Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies?

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

I’ll reluctantly join the growing chorus? Where are our beloved Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies? Many, most or all of you have shared that they are absent. So many of us proudly share that our perennial gardens are now in full bloom, rich with nectar producing flowers. Flowers that normally draw these large, colorful swallowtails.

At this time year after year we enjoyed seeing shots of Tiger caterpillars, chrysalises and newly eclosed male and female Tigers.

My own garden is beginning its 3rd full year, and the Tithonia (Mexican Sunflowers) are reaching 4′-5′ and opening flower. Our 3 species of Hibiscus are busters, our giant Zinnias hale, day lilies still spending new flowers,  Black-Eyed Susans strong, Obedient Plant throwing out hundreds of flowers, Cardinal Flower the deepest of red blooms, Coneflower by the dozens of blooms, Cosmos many and I’ve only seen a single Tiger Swallowtail, back in April 2019.

They’re always our dependables, like Commas on trails, Carolina Satyrs in Southern perennial beds, Silver Spotted Skippers at trails edge where wildflowers abound.

Stalwarts, myself included, expect to see them any day now, what with fennel, dill, black cherry, plum and chokecherry all present and accounted for.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail female at Raccoon Creek State Park, 42 minutes west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and 8 hours west of Times Square in New York City.

Jeff

On The Lookout For That ‘KISS’ Thingee

I saw one in my garden in April. She was almost fresh, and she was determined. Fortunately, we now have what? 6 Hercules Club young shrubs. Days later, we found 3 tiny Giant Swallowtail caterpillars. It didn’t turn out well, for by some 9 or so days later, they were gone. Predators (birds, lizards, wasps, etc.).

These last years, that I’ve met and enjoyed these graceful, BIG swallowtail butterflies, I’ve been teased by a challenging thought. Their dorsal pattern of bright yellow cells reminds me of something. What?

Opened this image, taken at Virginia’s Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, right here in Eatonton, Georgia, and I got it!

Know I’m a Rock ‘N Roller, so I’m not too conversant with KISS, but is this not like close to looking like their logo? KISS wrought Big?

Me? I expect Giants to reappear by the middle of this very July 2019.

Jeff