It Took Years, Years

Angela Carter and Joe Bens photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie, OH

The years went by. I was beginning. Beginning to know the butterflies of the U.S. northeast. I was never satisfied with what I could recognize, there were too many that I’d not yet found, seen.

It kept getting better. I went to Raccoon Creek State Park (southwestern Pennsylvania) as many as 50 mornings a summer. Fifty! Maybe more. I saw OMG! butterflies, often without an image to give sightings gravitas. I once saw a Goatweed leafwing butterfly there (startled me, no image) and I saw Harvester butterflies (Images scored) and . . . I once saw an Orange-barred Sulphur butterfly (again, I startled it, it startled me, and it flew up at a 82 degree angle, near as fast as an US Airforce F-15). Coral hairstreaks were seen, often going unseen for the next several years.

It took years and years to build my rep (seriously) and connect with folks who had serious trail experience. Years and years (as in lots of years). The national organization expressed zilch interest, and do not ask me how many times I traveled a good distance to find butterflies, alone, only to get ‘skunked [not find any hard to find butterflies].’ I’d post those I did shoot, sometimes reaping ‘Oh, too bad, you were just a few hundred feet from their prime habitat.’

It took years and years, ’til now, with 2017 I have new friends, who Love doing what I Love doing, and I’m sharing new stuff, from new places. Happy Boy, I am.

Angela and Joe here were with me in very southern Ohio, Adams County. She is encyclopedic with a working knowledge of Ohio trails, botany, butterflies and especially orchids. Joe too knows, knows so much, butterflies particularly. There we were. It took years and years. Good. Very good.


Briar Patch Statuary

Flower sculptures photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, GA

Folks love the Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia. This middle Georgia (east of Atlanta) butterfly oasis is now in its 5th year. Dreamed up by Virginia, brought to fruition by a handful of friends and neighbors, Bartow, Sylbie, Doug, Susan, Stacy, Roger . . . the town of Eatonton was gently tweaked all along the way. Five years of planting just about 12,568 annuals, perennials, bushes and trees, almost all of them hostplants for this butterfly or that, and those 5 years of watering, weeding, moving, trimming and thinning came to what result?

The very best butterfly habitat from Maine to at least Perry, Florida, and from Delaware to the Mississippi River. A showcase for the butterflies of the South. Any given morning, on my drives down from Pittsburgh, I have seen no less than 20 different species of butterflies! On that list I include Zebra heliconian, Monarch, Zebra swallowtail, both Ladies, squadrons of giants (giant swallowtails), shockingly iridescent Pipevines (Pipevine swallowtails), well the list goes on and on. Virginia has seen goatweed leafwing butterflies there, and I’m anxious to see one too.

These inviting steel sculptures stands at a spot just after you enter the Habitat. The work of a local artist, Truth Be Told, I stop each time I arrive there, to marvel at how well they epitomize the excitement, zeal and beauty of the Briar Patch Habitat. My mother A”H read me Briar Rabbit stories when I was maybe 4 years old. She read them over and over again, as I would appeal to her to do. Happy irony, no?

The town of Eatonton decided some months ago to sell this site, smack dab in town, to a buyer. An Agreement was reached to move the Habitat to a new site in town, a larger site, and water will be piped there by the town. Virginia and her team are daily planning and working to replant, add new plants and somehow coax, cajole and tease those 3,645 butterflies to make the move too, in 2018.

Let me know when you’re going, Won’t you?