This thistle so reminds me of my youth. Then, there were guys in Brooklyn who you knew were rough guys. We called them “rocks.” I never messed with them, they wearing black leather jackets, adorned with sizable metal studs, their hair was heavily greased, and they always hung in groups. To this day, I don’t know how tough they were, but then, it made no sense testing out that unanswered question.
In Israel, this HolyLand Thistle plant totally reminds me of those ‘Fonzy’ characters back in Canarsie, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Flatbush Brooklyn. This 6 foot to 7 foot tall Thistle was covered with severe, saber sharp thorns. No creature I can think of would want to brush up against it. When you first come upon this plant, you stop and wonder, you foolishly hope that this Thistle cannot pick itself up and charge toward you. At least you are thankful that it is anchored in place.
I wondered too why a HolyLand wild flowering plant was so armed with near-deadly knife-like thorns. Why?
It was not in bloom then, and I regretted that I did not see it in flower.
This trail looked sooo promising. But, the border with Lebanon is not a benign boundary. Almost every minute on these Upper Galilee trails brought fresh, exciting butterflies. The temptation to think like a teenager quickly teased my thinking, i.e., What can really happen if I go some 200 feet past this Warning sign? Well, among other possibilities, violating this warning, and seeing a rare butterfly on that March 2015 day, could lead me a few steps off trail, to . . . a land mine! Or a kidnapping into the hands of Hezbollah. What’s a grown-up kid from Pittsburgh, ne’ Brooklyn worth? Brings to mind the Ransom of Red Chief, ’cause I’d be a lousy hostage.
I didn’t go past it. I’d been shooting butterflies since I arrived in the area, and had done well, with lots of images of those Protected Israeli Parnassians, Allancastria Cerisyi Speciosa.
Truth be told, I don’t speed, avoid narrow mountain roads, and am wise enough to stop at border signs, warning that a hot border is just ahead. Some butterflies live a charmed life, flying at belligerent borders and not seeing hikers or photographers, ever.
Our subject is intaking nectar from Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Mid-morning on July 27th, she is all business and so pre-occupied that we can approach within 12 inches.
Her deep orange is so rich that we are in a swoon. Fighting the milkweed family inner clock, she’s getting the last nectar before these flowers end their daily nectar production.
This 90 acre field in Raccoon Creek State Park is a treasure trove offering protected habitat that elsewhere is increasingly being lost.
So, if it’s July 27th, will she make the trip down south in early September, or will her progeny fly south?
Will they fly to Georgia, Alabama or Mississippi? Where will they begin their flight over the Gulf of Mexico?
I’m still awed by these questions . . . as I was as a grade schooler in Brooklyn, New York. How do they?
Danaus plexippus continues to ground us a bit, reminding us that we do not know everything!
Would butterfly heavyweights please weigh in here.