Rampion Bellflower in the HolyLand

Rampion Bellflower, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

There I was in late February 2016. Winter technically was not over yet in Israel, but, tell that to the wildflowers, butterflies and all the rest of the bountiful living fauna and flora! They had no reason not to germinate, grow, roam. Temps were in the 80’s and the winter rain had been just fine.

Your vision of Israel, from the few images of it you may have seen, usually is rocky and barren. Nope! If you’ve been in and out of here over the past months and years, you’ve seen that Israel is green, right down to the edge of its southern ⅓. Desert then down to Eilat, at the southern tip.

Here I was then, at Ramat Hanadiv, very close to the Mediterranean shore. A rocky high ground, what I saw was a carpet of wildflowers. Oh, My Goodness! Butterflies were my quest, but lately my eyes lock onto beautiful wildflowers, especially those new to me.

Rampion Bellflower. New to me. Now to capture a good image. I shot away. Pop, pop, pop . . . . . . .

I favored this image of a sweet HolyLand wildflower. I  was pleased to notice this little insect, and that tiny bonus, is Good, Very Good.

My plan is to return to Ramat Hanadiv, Mishmarot, Jerusalem, the Golan, the Galilee, Carmel, but, so far not a one of you has hearkened to the call: go and trail with Jeff, in . . . the HolyLand.


Arid Israel? Give a Gander

View from Ramat Hanadiv to Mediterranean Sea, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Coastal Plain, Israel

Looking down from the ancient farmhouse site on top of Ramat Hanadiv, we scan the Israeli coast, with urban neighborhoods in the mid-ground (Israeli-Jews and Israeli-Arabs), and the Mediterranean Sea in the background. Have you ever seen Israel like this? March 2016, and Jeff is scouring Ramat Hanadiv for butterflies. Jeff could not resist the rich menu of visual stimulation, obviously.

Now I ask, what’s in the foreground here, just beyond the rocky edge of the overlook? This is the Israel few know. Israel was once totally arid, desert. The early settlers were agriculturists, farmers, and they scratched through that sandy terrain. Along the way, they experimented with water conservation and usage. They became expert in stretching every drop of water they could find.

The end result today looks back at us here. That green you see are extensive fields of agricultural crops. Lush green, expertly farmed. Seeking butterflies, I have many times rode the trains that travel north and south. Green fields stretch all the way from the northern reaches of the Galilee down to Beersheva, at the very edge of the desert. Truth be told, that is being extended too, moving green fields south into the desert.

What, then are those grayish forms in the foreground? Give up? They are seas of netting, artfully hung and maintained, for the growth of mangoes, avocados, bananas, oranges, peaches and more. The fruit in Israel is yummy, fresh (small country, minimal shipping mileage).

I travel there to visit my grandsons, and to photograph Middle Eastern butterflies, and while there, I look, see and marvel at what I see.

I guess you’ve never been there. I know most of you know alot about this land. I would love to hear that this does tickle your curiosity about it. Thanks for coming aboard.


What’s A Bear’s Breech?

Syrian Bear's Breeches wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

Many of you have noted, Jeff, you shoot film, isn’t that a bit . . . expensive? Yes, it is, but the purist in me balks at not sharing with you, the same view that I see in the field. Film continues to provide better real-time color. That’s the way it looks.

But that concern, that Fuji slide film, and its processing/scanning is expen$ive, disappears when I encounter butterflies and wildflowers that tickle my imagination.

When I re-visited Syrian Bear’s Breeches here at Ramat Hanadiv’s reserve trails, in March 2016, I stopped. I marveled. I was reminded of the infinite complexity of this plant and the milieu that is its habitat. Acanthus syriacus is said to have inspired certain ancient architecture. Found in northern Israel, it produces its blooms for a short time in the HolyLand spring season.

I was there. I admired this unique native plant. I stood there, and tried to liken it to any other that I’ve known. There came that imagination tickle, and I shot away, butterfly or no butterfly, this plant was film worthy, for sure.

Then came the more difficult concern, would a share of this image tickle others?


Blue Connections in the HolyLand

Polyomattus Icarus butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

A good thing to see. Healthy Common Blue butterflies locked together on a trail in the Ramat Hanadiv reserve, just a shout and one-half from the baby blue Mediterranean Sea. It was March 2016, and following a moist enough Middle Eastern winter, these Israeli Polyomattus icarus juno butterflies were fulfilling the life’s mission for a normal Blue butterfly: Find a very suitable mate, and generate a new generation of Healthy Common blues.

He on the left, she on the right. Jeff there too, pleased with another boost to a very Good morning on a very productive trail.

Jeff who has completed his teaching, his real estate saga, and who daily Thanks G-d for enabling him to see the beauty, rich color and everyday meaning of this Amazing World.

2017? Anybody?