Love this Butterfly? No. But Why?

Peacock butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

I count 1995 or so as the year that I decided to photograph butterflies. Life had always found me marching to my own drummer, and childhood had seriously taught me to learn the hard lesson of loneliness. Fortunately, I had the tools to make it on the streets of that Brooklyn, and I alway knew I could love, deeply.

Butterflies have occupied my mind and imagination since, and happily, that enthusiasm has not lessened. With Spring around the corner here in middle-Georgia, I spend much time thinking of where, what and which butterflies I would like to meet and re-meet. I’ve learned to reckon with limitation$ and to embrace the realization that I am one beat less than Ansel Adams and his ilk.

These decades have me thinking of Big questions, when I am in the field and when I am like here, at my 27″ iMac screen examining my craft work.

Large among the questions that visit me is this one. Why do I embrace, Love, images of certain butterflies? I easily include here: Coppers, Hairstreaks, Mourning cloak, Tortoiseshells, the Monarch, Common Mestra, Satyrs and the Alpines (though I’ve never seen one)?

I know, intellectually that this White Peacock butterfly, shot in the National Butterfly Center, the one near the border wall, is magnificent. Yet I am not excited when I’ve seen them, there’s no enthusiasm there. Add to that the Yellow butterflies, the White butterflies, the Checkerspots, Crescents, Ladies and the Skippers.

For a guy who has been thinking, deeply, since he was back there a 5-year old. I have not yet teased apart the reason for this ambivalence about this magnificent butterfly, the Peacock. A puzzle that. Yes?

Jeff

Where Have You Been All My Life?

Malachite butterfly (facing right) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Count just 10 months ago, and I was here, right where you see this ephemeral Malachite butterfly. Too bad you were not there with us. You would have seen this almost child-like smile on my face, when they quietly beckoned me, ‘Come Jeff, you’ve got to see this!’

Our Malachite butterfly was a singleton, resting peacefully in the dimly lit corridor, bordered by tall, thick bush. The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, near the border wall and Mexico. It remained there for some half hour or so, changing its leaf lounge 2 times, each time resuming its unhurried rest.

Described as “Uncommon,” I knew right then that this was something Special, coming along at this point in my journey. Hey, Look at Me! Meeting the hidden Gems of H-s work, nicely beyond the middle of life.

This repeat of ‘Where Have You Been All My Life’ has included our Malachite, that Erato Heliconian, a bunch of Metalmarks, the famed Gemmed Satyr, Red Rim, Common Mestra, Milbert’s Tortoiseshell, Georgia Satyr, Eastern Pygmy Blue, Regal Fritillary, Zebra Heliconian and more, much more (Leonard’s Skipper for one).

Just can’t find enough gigs to share my work/enthusiasm. When young people are in the room, I urge them to consider studying butterflies as career, university teaching, and I suggest, find a rare, little known butterfly and embrace it, know it, and kind of own it. Make yourself, I tell them, The expert on that beautiful mysterious butterfly, and you may well be traveling the world, sharing of it, and that will be on their ‘dime’ and more will invite you to come and talk and hot-wire their people and . . .

Meeting the real celebrities, not the plastic ones of Hollywood, TV, sports or politics, now, and I hope in the coming years, whispering “Where Have You Been All My Life?” again and . . .

Jeff