A Private Room In Tiffany’s

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

That’s what this meeting this Malachite Butterfly felt like. We were in the National Butterfly Center (NBC) in Mission, Texas. There were few people there that morning, Christmas week, 2017. We were on a trail, and someone approached and told us that there was a Malachite, resting on a lower trail, in good shade. The three of us quickly found it, and I was stunned by its beauty. Stunned. A few others came shortly after, and at least 2 people, frequent visitors to the NBC, said that it was the freshest one they’d ever seen. Big smile, for that!

I view this image once again, and I think, seeing this Malachite, spectacular as it is, is akin to us entering Tiffany’s flagship store on New York’s Fifth Avenue with the CEO of Tiffany’s rushing to the front of the huge store to meet us, and we are escorted to a posh private viewing room, and she proudly shows us their finest baubles, brought from their solid safe, she awaiting our approval after each broach, ring, necklace, pin, bracelet is reviewed. In the 1980’s I experienced much success, and this, earlier in my life, would not have been impossible.

That’s how moved I was by the Malachite, it more beautiful than anything that the House of Cartier had ever attempted to fashion.

Would that Barbara Ann, Nancy, Kelly, Phil, Laura, Virginia, Deepthi, Cathy, Leslie, Jim, Beth, Kenne, Sandra or you, were there . . . Jeff

Discovering Those Zebras

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

There were summer weeks when I visited Doak field 6 mornings a week. That 100 plus acre field is a gem, set in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. I got to know several trails in the park well, very well. I knew where to spot Mourning Cloaks, Northern Pearly-Eyes, Harvesters, Milbert’s Tortoiseshells, Comptons too. Monarchs, Swallowtails and Coral Hairstreaks. I’d seen a single Goatweed Leafwing there too, and what I don’t doubt was an Orange-barred Sulphur butterfly.

Wingedbeauty.com’s audience continues to grow, but there was a time that it became clear that offering up butterflies found in northeastern USA was becoming limiting, was not going to be enough to satiate my new friends here and around the world. That’s what prompted my first drive, those 700 miles down from Pittsburgh to Virginia’s Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in the town of Eatonton, central Georgia’s Piedmont region, that 2015.

New, amazing new butterflies. The kid from Brooklyn, who grew up watching lions and hyenas on those tiny TV screens, stalking their prey on the African veldt, found his zebras, though they were different zebras, strikingly gorgeous, were those Zebra Heliconian butterflies, first shown to me by Mike in Kathleen, Georgia. They float in the air as the ballerinas did when we had orchestra central seats at the New York City Ballet. Graceful as cannot be believed, you don’t know which is more stunning, their striking coloration or their floating athleticism.

They are show stoppers, necessitating your turning away from Giants, Black Swallowtails and American Ladies when the fly in as they do, unannounced, but show stoppers for sure.

This one was was flying in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. Those wings, that head, thorax and abdomen. Fine work this, No?

Jeff

 

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