November 2019 Can’t Come Fast . . .

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

We were there the last week of December 2017. I stood there ecstatic, allowing this sign to help me do the ‘pinch me if I’m dreaming’ thing. Nancy and John had Kindly suggested that I join them for that week, and I jumped at the offer! Flew out of Atlanta to San Antonio, rented a car there and John drove the 4 hours to Alamo, Texas. Stayed in the Alamo Inn and the next day we drove up to this sign!!

Think on this. In the perennial gardens at the National Butterfly Center (NBC) (McAllen, Texas) I was in a state of OMG! Butterflies I’d never ever seen before. I just watched ‘Pickers’ on the History Channel, and working the gardens at the NBC was one tintillating find after another. Hairstreaks, Metalmarks, Sulphurs, Brushfoots, Blues, Skippers everywhere you turned. I felt like a kid again, “John,” what’s this one? That one? The one on the 3rd bush?”

It was like I was meeting Sophia Loren, Brigette Bardot, Marilyn Monroe, Mia Farrow, Gina Lollabridgida and George Peppard, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Joe Pesci, Jimmy Stewart and Roy Rogers, it was.

I’m booked to return there in November, 2019. That and some time at “The Wall” and Bensten State Park and Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge and Falcon State Park and, and, and.

Two visits to the NBC in one lifetime. Neat, that.

Jeff

Love? No. Why?

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

I count 1995 or so as the year that I decided to photograph butterflies. Life had always found me marching to my own drummer, and childhood had seriously taught me to learn the hard lesson of loneliness. Fortunately, I had the tools to make it on the streets of that Brooklyn, and I alway knew I could love, deeply.

Butterflies have occupied my mind and imagination since, and happily, that enthusiasm has not lessened. With Spring around the corner here in middle-Georgia, I spend much time thinking of where, what and which butterflies I would like to meet and re-meet. I’ve learned to reckon with limitation$ and to embrace the realization that I am one beat less than Ansel Adams and his ilk.

These decades have me thinking of Big questions, when I am in the field and when I am like here, at my 27″ iMac screen examining my craft work.

Large among the questions that visit me is this one. Why do I embrace, Love, images of certain butterflies? I easily include here: Coppers, Hairstreaks, Mourning cloak, Tortoiseshells, the Monarch, Common Mestra, Satyrs and the Alpines (though I’ve never seen one)?

I know, intellectually that this White Peacock butterfly, shot in the National Butterfly Center, is magnificent. Yet I am not excited when I’ve seen them, there’s no enthusiasm there. Add to that the Yellow butterflies, the White butterflies, the Checkerspots, Crescents, Ladies and the Skippers.

For a guy who has been thinking, deeply, since he was back there a 5-year old. I have not yet teased apart the reason for this ambivalence about this magnificent butterfly, the Peacock. A puzzle that. Yes?

Jeff

That Del Webb 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, 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?

Jeff

That Rare Visit by an Erato

Red-Rim Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

The 4 or 5 folks who were really excited about  the discovery of an Erato Heliconian butterfly were all very familiar with the National Butterfly Center. It was December 2017, Christmas week, and I was there for the first time. I knew the appearance of a Very fresh Erato was very special, it had to be with the excitement that was riveting the air there. An overcast day, with few visitors besides the handful of us there.

A fresh Erato! My Canon film camera’s built-in light meter had been giving me fits, that entire time in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. I shot away at this Erato, nevertheless. Here is an underlit view of the left ventral wing surfaces. Despite the obvious absence of light, the orange forewing band shows color true, as does the whitish-yellow hindwing strip. That they appear vivid against the black background is right for this butterfly.

Booked again to return in late November 2019. That is good, Very Good.

Jeff

She’s The Sweetest Little Rosebud, That Texas Ever Knew . . .

Texan crescent butterfly (male) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

We saw quite a few of them in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. They fly low, and perch often. They were my first Texan Crescents. I took a liking to them.

I wanted to capture and share their rich coloration. This Texan female pretty much fits the bill.

Some say that are occasional migrants to my middle Georgia, though in these 4 years of visiting the Georgia Piedmont, I’ve never seen one.

It’s in my thinking to return to the Lower Rio Grande Valley late in 2019. I know where to stay, I’d rent a car, but I know of no one who will aid me in finding the hotspots there: Falcon Heights, Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge, Edinburg Wetlands or Boca China/Rd 4?

Oh I cried so when I left her that it nearly broke my heart, and if I ever find her we never . . .

Jeff