We are happy to share this wonderful 2-page article from the March 9th Eatonton Messenger. The article tells the tale of our increasingly ever-connected worlds of blogging, social media and butterfly field work. Jeff uses his outsider-expertise to tell Messenger readers just how special Eatonton’s Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch habitat really is. Enjoy!
Yesterday’s mail was delivered by Autumn, and with it came the new issue of NABA’s Butterfly Gardener. In it was an excellent piece by Meredith Mays, President of the Piedmont (Georgia) chapter of the North American Butterfly Association. Her article is titled, ‘In Search of Baltimore Checkerspot.’
That triggered memories of my own encounters with the scrumptious! looking eastern butterfly. First at Powdermill Reserve, conserved by the Pittsburgh Museum of Natural History, and much later in 2015 and 2016 at the Jamestown Audubon Center in very western New York State. Sharp memories they are, for there are some butterflies you want to see, for they are rare, or curious looking, or on your personal list of what I do want to meet and greet.
Then there are those like you see here, the Baltimore, that ascribe to all of the above, but are also visual treats, knockouts! I fully place Baltimore Checkerspots in the “it’s gorgeous” category. More can be said. They are found in and around wetlands, and wetlands fascinate me. Their hostplant is turtlehead wildflower plants. Now who would chose turtleheads for their #1 diet selection? And sadly, when you find them, you know that that’s about 97.3% because you are standing in a protected reserve, otherwise it seems that on private wetland you find 2 unfortunate phenomena: Baltimores and . . . developers.
I almost posted instead an image of Stanley Lines on that famous ‘faux porch” in the Briar Patch Habitat, but then Meredith’s article arrived, and my thoughts turned to Baltimores.
They schooled us at Ft Dix, New Jersey. The cadre kept up a constant drumbeat, ‘You’re going to ‘Nam!’ Though I had my BS degree safely in the vault, I at the time, never heard of this Viet Nam? Where was it, and why was I going there? So, when they instructed us in the best ways to look for the ‘enemy’ in the bush, I paid close attention, for they were also saying that in this ‘Nam, they were making chopped meat out of our troops. (Went from Dix to Ft Sill in Oklahoma for my 105 mm artillery training, and then at that last formation when they called out the Orders, it was him ‘Nam, him Germany, him ‘Nam, him Germany (which meant ‘Nam but after a short time) . . . and “Zablow, Return to Home Unit (155 mm towed).” The crazy 287 arty was never called up. It was filled with 1/2 crazy NYC cops & fully crazy NYC sanitation guys . . . and me . . . maybe the VCong pleaded with us to not send us, is a possibility).
So here I am in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat (Eatonton, Georgia), and its Summer ’16 and I am using those same techniques to not look for enemy, but for cooping butterflies in this very early morning light. Found some swell sleeping butterflies, especially those Eastern Black Swallowtails, featured in the panel at the top of your screen, ‘Jeff’s Earrings.’
Jackpot! too, when I locked onto this magnificent chrysalis. Now, this just makes me stare, and summons up my Biology degree background, and makes me think, Nice Job Virginia C Linch! I mean, how do you wrap your understanding around such a miracle of life/engineering/survival/sculpture/design/ingenuity? And I get real religious when I find such as this. My former snarky New York City/NY Metropolitan area friends, many of whom believed that their huge $uccess was due solely to their own worthiness, are perhaps too early dismissive of the wonder of such as this chrysalis.
Now at this time I’m supposed to share my ID of this butterfly species. Truth be told, I am no authority as to chrysalis identification. So, out goes the call to Virginia?
Reminiscing of the memorable blues (Sinatra, Paul Newman, that girl from the Bronx . . . ), the morning of chasing tiny blue butterflies in the land surrounding Neve Ativ wasn’t delivering good blue butterfly images. I was in the northeastern tip of Israel, on the foothills leading to Mt. Hermon, in the fabled, and very green Golan. Syria was about 4 miles away, with its ISIL, Hezbollah, Russian, Iranian Republican Guard, Assad-loyal gangsters. No sign of war here, what with the hidden, but very formidable presence of Israel forces. There was also that small military plane, flying back and forth over nearby valleys, searching for possible border breeches.
I fly there again on March 28th, to spend my first Passover in the HolyLand, ever. My hosts? Well, my own daughter Rachel and her family, especially Hillel and Boaz. No hotels for me, family will not hear of it. I love sitting with the men, 100% of whom have served, most having seen battle, some like Moshe and Misha, in multiple wars. Some who have gone on missions never reported, never discussed, all to defend and protect. Americans mostly don’t know what that is like, and for that we are Blessed.
As can happen, after more than 2 hours afield, this macho! male flew in, and choose a yellow bloom, and began to nectar. Bluer than blue, me whispering, ‘Don’t leave, stay put.’ He did, and know that none of my shares are re-worked, all are as they were real-time. Frank, Paul, that girl from the Bronx . . . don’t know why, but these tiny blues evoke memories of eyes, extraordinary eyes. Polymattus icarus in a meadow just northeast of Neve Ativ.
Shall I look for you on my El Al flight?