Fighting To Look Tough

Earring Series - Jeff with Black Swallowtail Earrings (Best shot), at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

This is the shot with the Eastern Black Swallowtails fully on my right ear.

I fought every kid I had to back on the streets of Brooklyn. Yes, I was good friends with a bunch of kids who’s family business was well, sort of organized crime. Sometimes I had to fight them too, that’s how it was.

I fought some in the Boys’ Club in Flatbush, and I did OK.

I fought some in high school, those who thought they would roll over me. That went just fine.

I joined the 2nd How 187th Artillery Guard unit in Brooklyn, friends were a couple of young Irish cops. I fit in just fine. They decided to go to Officers Candidate School, urged me to go too. Frieda A”H asked what does it benefit me with, and I told her better pay, live in the BOQ (Batchelor Officers Quarters), eat in the Officers Mess (better than 99% of Manhattan fine restaurants) and get a driver to drive me everywhere I go (the driver I got was a made Mob guy, and a very good driver). All that time I had to look tough, act tough . . . which was fine ’cause I already was kind of tough . . .

In John Adams High School, they made me a Dean for the Freshman Boys, and that meant disciplining the sons of many men in the John Gotti organization. That was fine, and there too I had to act . . . tough.

New York City Public Schools refused to promote me to Assistant Principal (they were not looking to promote a tough, young, OCS-grad Jew back then) so I eventually began managing small apartment buildings on very, very good Manhattan streets. There again I had to look tough, for my tenants, my office staff, my vendors and trades people, and the sometimes mob connected folks I sometimes had to deal with.

My whole life I’ve had to look tough and be tough. Men don’t cry, I had heard.

When Frieda finished her nearly 8 years of battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, the day the doctor told me, at her request, that there were no more new chemo- treatments for her, it was a Friday night. She first sent me home to prepare the Friday night Sabbath turkey for me and the kids (grown, they came because her fight was . . . ) She then sent them home, too. Moments after I put the Turkey on their plates, the telephone rang . . . . The nurse said we must come NOW, there was no time. I sped to Shadyside Hospital (part of enormous UPMC). Frieda had died some 5 minutes before we got there. I cried. I cried a lot. I forgot being/looking tough. I cried, loudly.

Sylbie was taking these images of this incredible Black Swallowtail visit, from my hat, shoulders and eventually to my ear. A pair of coupled magnificent black swallowtails, resting . . . on my ear. Sylbie was right there, and, I tried to shield tears, hide them, but I don’t know how well I did, for I cried. I forgot the need to look tough, to swagger, to fear nothing. I cried, for I had no doubt that Frieda was there, right then, and that she was responsible for those OMG! finest of butterflies, perching on my ear.

No, I stopped trying to look tough. Just long enough to . . .

Jeff

Tantalizing Blue Sky With Monarch

Monarch butterfly on Tithonia with intense blue sky, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

Armed with my Canon 100mm/2.8 Macro lens, those tall-tall Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia) plants prevented me from getting scrumptious images of the many Monarch butterflies that day. I just couldn’t get close enough to captures the dramatic detail of the monarchs.

Denied, I began reviewing my situation. I wanted to cop Monarchs against the unique blue Eatonton, Georgia sky. This was the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, and when Monarchs fly, fresh ones like this one, it doesn’t matter that you own dozens of good Monarch looks, you’ve got to respect the remarkable beauty before you. You’ve just got to grab some Monarch images.

My decide? I decided to go for it, to get a good image of a fresh Monarch, sitting high above me on a Tithonia bloom, with the rich blue sky framing it, all doable with my wonderful Fuji Velvia 50 slide film.

Here it its. I love it. You?

Jeff

Once Upon A Time, There Was A Very Beautiful . . .

Black Swallowtail butterfly and chrysalis, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch, Eatonton, GA

Black Swallowtail butterfly and chrysalis

Each and every time I prepare a post for winged beauty, I scroll down through the 1,000 or more images in our Media Library. So many memories, people I worked the trails with, experiences running from incredible to mundane. All those times that you were not there with me.

There are several images stored in our Media Library, that I always slow down for. Mostly because they so sing to me, their beauty so extraordinary. Wingedbeauty.com has always been my way to share the beauty of butterflies, i.e., the magnificence of G-d’s handiwork.

This is one of those that urge me to stop and enjoy. She has just exited that empty chrysalis that you see in the background. She’s resting as she dries her huge wings. Just the most magnificent Eastern Black Swallowtail female.

Her wings are as ebony black as there can be. Her coral spots, blue flashes, white scallops are set in that pattern seen only in Black Swallowtails. Tails are intact, abdomen and thorax covered with milk-white spots. Her left eye (compound) is deeply black, her proboscis can be seen and her antennae are as dark as night. She sports an elegance that is unmistakable.

She’s the beauty featured in our Jeff’s Earrings series. She and her buff male, also newly eclosed (just exited from his chrysalis) brought a tear to my eye, for Frieda A”H passed 8 years before, and when those exquisite swallowtails finally moved, to perch on my ear, Oh, how I knew that Frieda was somehow responsible for such a surreal experience.

This is my capture, and Jeff’s Earrings were shot by Sylbie, who inexplicably arrived at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat I, at just the best possible moment. I deftly handed her my Canon, and Sylbie photographed the Jeff’s Earrings as they unfolded.

I look and re-look here, and I’m so proud that this one is . . . mine.

Jeff

Jeff Hits What? A Triple?

Mating Regal Fritillary Butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

I was taken with their name, Regal Fritillary Butterfly. They once flew where my childhood house is, in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood. The British troops and the Hessian troops saw them, during their march to surround George Washington’s men on the island of Manhattan.

I’d never seen Regals, and I wanted to meet them. A nearly 3-hour drive in June, to Ft. Indiantown Gap, a military post near Harrisburg, New York, made this image possible.

I was put off by the crowd that showed up that morning! Nearly 150 people, if you include the naturalist guides provided by Ft. Indiantown Gap. That well-managed program soon had us broken off into many groups, and mine was just 4 people.

We saw many Regals (Yay!!!) and Monarchs and Coral Hairstreaks and Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies. The sight of my first ever Regal Fritillary? A rush, truth be told.

I spotted this pair of coupled Regals, and to this day, I equate that to pounding a triple against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium itself!

Regals, found in only 2 meadows in the Eastern USA. That, folks, is sadder than dirt.

Jeff

Vegas Says You’ll Never Meet This One

Dorsal View of Bog Copper Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

Jeff sooo wanted to meet up with Bog Copper (Lycaena epixanthe) butterflies. Barbara Ann shared that there was a little known, almost never visited bog near her home, Allenberg Bog, in very western New York State. We agreed that Allenberg may have Bog Coppers, if we go during their very brief ‘flight.’

When to go? They only fly when their hostplant, cranberries, are going into flower.

The opportunity to finally meet this rare butterfly, found only in cranberry bogs in New York, New England, Michigan and Minnesota, was too sweet to pass up.

We followed a very overgrown trail, from where we parked on the side of the road, and after several wrong readings of almost non-existent trail markers, there was Allenberg Bog, replete with Pitcher Plants and Sundew Plants in bloom. The tiny bog cranberries were also in bloom, and there were the Bog Coppers, they something past the mid-point of their brief flight.

Here is a Bog Copper, perched on Cranberry leaf. She was adorable, and I had met, and shot Bog Coppers. Not need to mention how I almost sunk down toooo deep into that unfathomable bog’s depth.

You? Vegas passes on that Your chance of seeing one, at the rate you’re going is 726 to 1.

Jeff