I was not raised in a small, rural town. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, with officially 3,000,000 people in that borough. We always knew that with the uncounted immigrants there at any time, the real number of those living in Brooklyn was nearly 4,000,000. I travelled by New York City subway for decades, amongst the hundreds of thousands who used the subway any morning or afternoon. Remember, I was the young guy, who as a delivery messenger working in Manhattan after college those years, had a package to be delivered to a Rockette in Radio City Music Hall, and there, was told to take it into the Rockette in the Rockette dressing room. I did, and I was briefly, immersed in infinite beauty, momentarily, but long enough.
All this by way of sharing that I have seen beauty and do find myself awestruck when natural beauty is one in a million. Like some, I get tongue-tied, despite that other facet of me, that having experienced temporary financial success, I am not awed in the presence of the very wealthy, celebrities or ‘stars.’ Beautiful women did/do quiet me down some.
Know then that when I happen onto certain butterflies, as a Gorgeous female tiger swallowtail butterfly, I find myself almost apologetic, as if I am intruding on her. I’ve experienced that quite a few times, and no amount of rationalization erased that feeling for the next time . . . .
Raccoon Creek State Park’s Nichol Road trail in southwestern Pennsylvania, an 8 hours drive west from that Radio City Music Hall in New York, New York.
This sure tantalizes, bringing vivid memory of that spectacular spot, with its pickerelweed growing in 4 inches of pond at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, on the Georgia coast. Stationed just away from the pond water, I was impressed with the diversity of butterflies that were visiting. Pickerelweed that must be pumping nectar, no doubt of that. This male Gulf Fritillary butterfly was fresh, complete (not bird struck) and hungry.
What’s the big deal? Harris Neck NW Refuge is loaded with alligators. At the time, the heavy traffic of beautiful butterflies to lush pickerelweed just could not be resisted. Even now, having survived the streets and all the rest, having taken guns from high schoolers back in Ozone Park, roaming the East Village before the East Village became what it’s now today, I sometimes (?) dissuade myself, internally arguing that risks are not as risky as they might be.
Might a 10 foot American alligator be near, just 15 feet from this spot? Isn’t it true that a ‘gator can accelerate, to cross 15 feet of pond’s edge in ‘x’ seconds?
Cliffs that give me the ‘Willies,’ Falling rock field where certain Satyr butterflies frequent, those Arroyos in Arizona and Israel where rain upstream can send a wall of water at you at what, 50 mph? Gators that are probably 5 times stronger than you think they could be?
Men who shoot butterflies are few and far between, and some of them devolve into 14-year-old -boy behavior when they see those certain butterflies, magnificent, exotic and challenging, no?
It seems that when certain butterflies fly into my vicinity, I have them on a mental list, of photo objectives I have. For the tiny Metalmark butterflies, I want better views of those scintillating shiny metal lines that shimmer from their upper wing surface. Mourning cloaks are high on my list. I have a special connection with Mourning Cloaks, a very personal one. I can’t wait for the Spring day when an excitingly fresh one decides to strike a pose for me, and I capture that maroon upper, with the delicious blue spots and those yellow borders. Monarchs? I have 2 or so dozen images in my slide storage cabinet, yet I want a killer image of a Monarch with those strange eyes, deep orange-rust color and body/head aburst with those white explosive dots.
Another chance to shoot that Common Mestra that teased me on the National Butterfly Center trail, would be nice, it not affording my a single exposure. Now that I’m getting a tad Gimme! here, I sure would like to remeet a fresh Compton Tortoiseshell butterfly, this time close enough for my Macro- lens to do what it does, with this heavy favorite of me, the Compton. That Georgia Satyr back in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle jumps out to me here, for with the sweat pouring down over my eyes those last days of August, my vision was blurred, and image scores turned out to be Eh!
Not true here with this Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly. I wanted to get that shimmering blue that you see on the inner side of those coral spots. I pretty much did, and that is good.