Maniola Won’t Come . . . For Sure

Maniola Telmessia butterfly (female) photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

Petra and I just came back from our long walk into Frick Park. She as usual walked beautifully, when no dogs were nearby. When an owner came along with a dog, she did her lunge to play thing. Dogs large and small do not, do not, take this well, and it’s often, drama. Petra is a Black Russian, and though a graduate of several obedience programs, that Black Russian thing is always there. Much of that time my mind was mostly on the FedEx package, expected before 10:30 AM, overnighted from Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas, USA. We now have many followers around the world, thus the vital USA mention.

Maniola telmessia, the butterfly here, is not among the images coming home to me. During those 4 weeks in Israel (March 28 to April 25). Didn’t see a single one there, not in the upper Golan, nor in the top of the Galilee, and not in Ramat Hanadiv, or Mishmarot, or in the ‘Alligator’ River Park, near Hadera. Maniola should/could have been seen, but butterflies fly when they fly, and many factors determine that.

Shooting with film (Fuji Velvia 50/100) forces you to be patient. I’ve not seen them, some for 5 weeks. Don’t know which will be OMG! or which will disappoint. There were many ‘I hope this looks like it looks here!’ opportunities. Only when I haul out my lighbox, and use my loupe to examine each and every one, will you know I’ve scored winners! You’ll know when you hear that faint ‘Yay!‘ coming from Pittsburgh, all the way to Eatonton, Frewsburg, Frisco, Macon, Oxford, Shellman Bluff, Gibbstown, Whitbey Island, Lilburn, France, the Netherlands, Vancouver Island, Poland . . .

Oh, and I finished  The Thunder Tree by Robert Michael Pyle (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993) today, my 2nd read. That sent me here, to share.


Maniola Beckons

Maniola Telmessia (female) photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

Funny that. Many of us harbor favorites. Be they favorite cars, quarterbacks, Netflix series, coffee cups . . . and favorite butterflies. We are now in the early planning for a new Feature here, might be titled Jeff’s Favorite Butterflies.

Eight or ten of my image captures would be there for you, and every quarter years or so we would rotate in a new group, or at least wean out some to be replaced with others. Just weeks ago I shared a favorite, a delicate shot of an American copper. Our southern friends, caught me off guard, for they had never seen these pixies in Georgia, Alabama or Tennessee.

Well I fly in 4 weeks, to see Hillel and Boaz, my grandsons in Israel. I am now strategizing, what do I want to seek, and where and when can I do so?

Here’s an all time favorite of mine, Maniola telmessia. She’s nectaring on a wildflower on Mt. Meron in the very north of Israel’s Galilee. I love her colors, especially that Sunkist orange of an orange, how it is set amidst a mellow brown and that with a bullseye white spot, itself surrounded in a yellow border. It took several years for me to meet her, preceded by much frustration and disappointment.

But when  I spotted this one, it almost seemed like she beckoned to me, and I did not hesitate, and as she continued her nectaring, I shot away, with this nice result.

Jeff, headed to the HolyLand, with zero likelihood of bumping into you in Jerusalem or Netanya, Tel Aviv, the Sea of Galilee or Capernum. What do I have to do to . . . (OK, Jeff, don’t badger)?


Relic 1948 Watchtower in Israel’s Upper Galilee

1948 Guard Tower, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Upper Galilee, Israel

This is what 1948 was like in Israel. Mothers and their daughters and sons had to hold their breath, while Daddy (“Abba”) took his turn up in this sentry watchtower. They had to try to not imagine Lebanese or Syrian or even Egyptian regular army brazenly advancing on Daddy’s post, and letting loose a barrage that would leave its metal frame looking like . . . swiss cheese. Or recoilless shoulder mounted missiles obliterating it instantaneously. The same held true if it was a young woman’s boyfriend, with the path to the marriage canopy an active dream.

Have you focused on the horizon here? Just over it is Lebanon. That meant zero  troops there at any given time, and 500 Arab soldiers and fedayeen massing there a few hours later.

Yeah, this is a butterfly blog, but at the base of this relic guard tower is a SPNI Meron trail, and that’s how I first came to see this. It transfixed me. How secure did those Daddys, husbands, brothers, cousins and young men feel up in that glorified sardine can?

The Arab regular armies invaded the nascent tiny little Israel in 1948. The Jews repulsed them, and held.

I just read yesterday that Israel took delivery of its first US F-35 jet fighter. I read on, and I  thought, Thank You G-d. A dragon killer, it’s said to be. What a long way from this sardine can perched on those spindly steel supports!

Think you know the deal in this “Palestine.” Better first read From Time Immemorial – The Origins Of The Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine by Joan Peters and its hundreds of footnotes, before you once again speak authoritatively about today’s Middle East.

This guard tower, it must have been sheer  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  when they came, sheer  . . . . . . . . . . . .

Oh, sure, there were lots of butterflies flying there those several days.


Pink Butterfly Orchid. Guess Where?

Pink Butterfly Orchid (2 stalks), photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Upper Galilee, Israel

It’s February 2016, and winter here is coming to a predictable end. I’ve been keeping my eyes open lately, searching for more than butterflies. Exploring forests, bogs, swamps, fens and more, I’ve been bumping into new ‘friends.’ Orchids.

Orchids demurely stand, sometimes in full view, and often this hiding in plain view leaves them unnoticed. Imagine that. Fugitives from justice often use this same tactic.

So there I was, on a trail bordered on both sides by lush new growth, most sporting blooms of a palette of pastels. This pair of orchid flower stalks were just inches from the trail edge. Delicate, beautiful and determined. Audrey Hepburn-ish, and equally beautiful.

The media works to convince you that this land is a land of desolation and strife. Hooey. We are at the base of Mt. Meron, far, far to the north of Israel’s Upper Galilee region, a handful of miles from poor, terrorist ridden Lebanon.

Pink Butterfly Orchid, and I ask what you think of this delicate and sturdy at the same time orchid, growing inches from the passing paws of sometimes jackals, antelope, wild boar, wolves, and more?