That’s the Mediterranean You See

Rosh Hanikra, sign at shoreline (Mediterranean Sea), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Israel

Hebrew, Arabic and English all warn that this shoreline and surrounding are closed military areas. Folks in the United States never get to see such warnings. Our neighbors, Mexico and Canada are at peace with us. Israel’s neighbors, including Lebanon, the Gaza strip and many thousands of terrorists nearby dream of slipping into this and many other stretches of Meditteranean shore in  Israel to do really horrendous things. Think about the latest that they did in Paris.

I was working the strip along the shore, seeking butterflies to photograph. I found many and relished the experience. In the back of my mind was the irony of this scene. Total beauty, amazing botany and butterflies, blue waters of the Sea, and just several hundred yards from Israel’s northwestern border with Lebanon. Rosh Hanikra, Israel, 24/7 surveillance, watching this very same spot, for dinghies, kayaks, rubber boats, submergibles, frogmen and . . . .

If G-d forbid any of these appeared, this spot would be . . .  And they know it.

Jeff . . . mixing butterflies, rare orchids, and the reality of current affairs.

Middle Eastern Wildflower ID’d

Lizard Orchid (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Rosh Hanikra, Israel

Butterflies, it was butterflies that I was after. Good enough that I was finding them here in Rosh Hanikra National Park, at the very northeastern tip of Israel, right at the border with Lebanon.

I was also discovering many wildflowers that I had never seen in Israel. Stop and expend valuable slide film each time? And time, that too was limited (always limited in the field).

When I noted this extraordinary tower of bloom, I stopped. I’d expect to see such an other-worldy plant, like maybe on Mars. How could I not photograph it? It’s an orchid, No?

I have searched my field guides of Israeli Wildflowers, and awaited word from Israel. Well, enough waiting. Without word from expert botanists abroad, I determine that this is NOT an orchid, but a bloomhead of . . . Syrian Bear’s Breech (Acanthus syriacus). Different. Reallllly different.

I’m telling you, come visit Israel, see the HolyLand, and leave some time to split off and work the OMG! habitats that have awaited your visit for 1,000’s of years. You’ve worked too hard, and this trip is deserved. No doubt about that.

Jeff

Ever Met Snake Tongue Orchid?

Snake Tongue Orchid (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Rosh Hanikra, Israel

A sage family member shared, years ago, that grandchildren, for those fortunate enough to enjoy them, were “dividends.” He got that right. Application to butterflies and wildflowers? Seeking butterflies in the field (wild) often produces a very beautiful treat, wildflowers. Wildflowers that you didn’t expect or know you would see. Here, 7,000 miles from Pittsburgh International Airport (USA) I was seeking butterflies, and then . . . I saw these orchids. What? OMG! Excuse Me! And what do we have here? These, all thoughts that shot through my mind.

I was 50 yards from the Mediterranean Sea, in Rosh Hanikra National Park, Israel. At the northwestern tip of Israel, with the border with Lebanon in sight. That border with its own bloom of towers, disks, and other esoteric security gear. But down here, 450 feet from the border, I was meeting a new orchid, the Snake Tongue Orchid. Rare, protected and very extraordinary looking.

I worked about a mile of the Park, all hugging the shore of that blue-green sea. I worked it slowly and thoroughly. I saw approximately 35 of these orchids (Serapias Vomeracea). They were in small groups, plants usually 3-4 feet apart. Their color made them stand out like a sore thumb.

I looked at the dozens and dozens of tourists (Israeli, Chilean, Belgian, German, Canadian, Azbekistanian, and more), and thought what folks like us think. Why were 99.8% of us not stopping, getting out of their cars, and coming over to gaze at these fabulous orchids, limited bloom-time, and in very, very limited numbers?

For those of you who have not visited Israel, and imagine it as war-ravaged, paranoid, stressed and rocky barren . . . well, no, you ought to visit the HolyLand, for as you see, it it Beautiful.

Jeff