Hairy Pink Flax (Israel)

Wildflower, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Society for the Protection of Nature Hermon, Israel

I was up there, March 2015, near the base of Mt. Hermon, in the hilly reserve of SPNI Hermon. The trails was busting bountiful with wildflowers, and the butterflies that I came to see and photograph. I’d brought 53 rolls of Fuji slide film (ASA 50/100) through Security in Pittsburgh and JFK New York and again through Ben Gurion airport. Each time Security and I spent more time together than most, with my “Hand Check!”requests, usually met with frowns and shrugs. My film did not get x-rayed once, despite some pleas that the irradiation does effect film. That a chance I do no wish to take.

So it was supposed, supposed to be butterflies only, but . . . the wildflowers could not be denied. New to me, fresh and beautiful.

These Hairy Pink Flax (Linum Pubescens) were just so pretty, perky and inviting. Why they are not pink, Quien sabe? Three field guides seem to ID them as such.

I love butterflies, wildflowers, cantaloupe, black russians, babaganoush, Breyers mint chip, . . . .


Your HolyLand Geography Lesson, circa March 2015

Mt. Hermon, Israel photographed by Jeff Zablow from Qedesh trail, Israel

I’ve travelled alot this 2015, at least alot for a guy who is kind of reticent to travel to very new places. Me, “the solitary traveler,” makes trips to Georgia, Florida, Western New York, and as seen here, Israel.

I’ve met alot of interesting people this year, and surprise, surprise, the topic often moves from finding butterflies to the current nasty state of the U.S., and to . . . Israel.

I’m amazed at the number of Christians out there, who share zeal (Yep, zeal) for Israel. I didn’t always, hearing not much about Israel when I was a kid. Now, with good belief underpinnings and a daughter, son-in-law and 2 tiny grandsons there, plus extended family . . . Well, that’s why I visit it year after year.

Like U.S. butterflies, Israeli butterflies are beautiful. The other bonus is that Israel is so small, that you can travel north or south in a matter of hours. Butterflies that are found in the Upper Galilee, Golan Heights, Negev, Ein Gedi, or Jerusalem are within a moderate drive from my daughter Rachel’s home.

Seen from Qedesh trail, mid-way across Israel’s northern border, Mt. Hermon greets us at the center of the image. At 7,000 feet, that snow you see prevented my going up there to find butterflies. Remember I went to the peak in 2008, and yes, there were super rare butterflies flying up there. it was a Wow! experience for me, the widow who months before lost the mother of my children.

Though the airfare rates on El Al are OMG! low today (The problem! has emptied the shops and hotels), I still have yet to convince a single Christian to get up and go there. That despite my recounting the crush at Ben Gurion airport, with thousands of Christians coming and going, mostly in groups, from Slovenia, Uzbekistan, Bolivia, Canada and Tanzania.

So, for a quickie HolyLand Lesson, we are standing on this verdant trail and looking due north. Directly on the other side of Hermon mountain is Syria, where tens of thousands of crazed and desperate men are killing one another. To the left, beyond Hermon is Lebanon, that once beautiful country that is buried deep now in Hezbollah, another killer franchise. Somewhat to the sharp right is Jordan, armed to the hip, but with a very resolute leader, keeping all working nicely. Directly south of us, to our back is Jerusalem. On the way to Jerusalem, are many stops that you learned about in Sunday school. Also behind our back, and to the left is Tel Aviv, as hip a city as exists, anywhere.

Any questions?


Butterflies Have Wings, Yes?

Pearl Crescent Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, August 2014No, not 5 minutes. You’ve got . . . 5 seconds. There in almost a blink of the eye, you set yourself down on your knee (my left) and check your aperture and shutter speed, via your built-in light meter. Look up. Good it’s still there.

Fast. Focus for eyes, abdomen, antennae, are you positioned correctly, with lens and butterfly properly aligned? A cloud comes from Huh? and reduces the available light. Readjust shutter speed. Still there, yes, Thank Y-u.

Lightning quick thought. Do I have the wings? Are the 4 wings focused? It is a butterfly, and you want all who see your image to think: What a beautiful butterfly. What kind is he? It’s almost always “he.” Save that bubbling question for another time.

The wings of butterflies are all exquisite. All of them. How do I know? I see them in real-time, usually from a distance of 18 inches to 24 inches from my lens. Who amongst us have viewed magnificent jewelry at Christies New York and Sotheby’s New York’s pre-sale exhibitions of magnificent jewelry? I have, many times. The wings of butterflies must give the craftspeople of Cartiers, David Webb, Van Cleef & Arpels, etc. fits, because they have never outdone H-s craftsmanship.

If the wings don’t sing to you and I, then the image didn’t deliver. It’s the wings, for butterflies. This Pearl Crescent flew in Raccoon Creek State Park, 37 miles west of Pittsburgh.


They’re Back from Kansas

Parnassius mnemosyne butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel
Rare, and closely related to swallowtails, this Parnassius Mnemosyne butterfly flies on the top of Mt. Hermon, at the northern tip of Israel’s Golan Heights. It’s ancestors dodged countless firefights on the mountain, in 1967. Happily, some survived, and our female here thrilled me when she flew in to nectar, right in front of me. Happy even though it was very hot up there in June, and we had to carry many liters of water to endure this field work. Continue reading

What Makes Thinking People Happy? For One: Coppers

Lycaena Thersamon photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Once you’ve passed that 30-year old plateau, the complexity of your neighborhood, town/city, state, country . . . and the larger world out there, begin to concern you. No? There are all of those weighty ‘problems’ that experts assure you must be confronted, and overcome. Few of us wither under the volume of these issues, but they do capture vital corner of our brains.

Good then that all who come to see our blog, and blogs like it, happily soar to higher bliss when we meet the countless triumphs that we find in the field. Here we share one.

One-half of the morning has slipped by, and the field in Mishmarot, Israel has delivered up a large number of fresh, vital butterflies. That’s good. Better again came this sighting. A pair of Lesser Fiery Copper butterflies, mating. Wow! Healthy, active, color-rich butterflies striving to produce progeny. What an uplifting moment. Wild beings navigating their world of open spaces, determined to produce the best, most vigorous offspring, and unconsciously depending upon us to support their existence and their relatively minute life space. An instantaneous wash-away of any and all anxious concerns, those replaced by: Life is good, and these butterflies seem to encourage us to keep it that way.