Would You Contemplate a Thistle?

Spiny Thistle photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Absent a steady menu of butterflies, my mind and my eyes scan for beauty, the new, the yet unknown, and I forever look for the inexplicable. It’s the inexplicable here in the native growth along the berm of an unimproved agricultural dirt road in Mishmarot, Israel.

My Handbook of Wildflowers of Israel – Mediterranean Flora by Darom and Shmida, is written in Hebrew, so I am at some disadvantage. Nonetheless, this would be Notobasis syriaca, and the timing is right, with this viewed in April 2017.

The oft asked question, for me, is, is this film worthy? Your response, remains a question for me. Me? The color, severe angles and impressive armament of this plant evokes much for me, mostly of a life in Brooklyn, and on the subways, when I too carried long cold steel, in my pocket.

Standing there, shooting away, trying for a good look ar Notobasis, I rattled off in my mind the HolyLand Patriarchs and Matriarchs who must surely have also stopped at these wonders of Creation, and admired, just as I did.

Jeff

Rampion Bellflower in the HolyLand

Rampion Bellflower, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

There I was in late February 2016. Winter technically was not over yet in Israel, but, tell that to the wildflowers, butterflies and all the rest of the bountiful living fauna and flora! They had no reason not to germinate, grow, roam. Temps were in the 80’s and the winter rain had been just fine.

Your vision of Israel, from the few images of it you may have seen, usually is rocky and barren. Nope! If you’ve been in and out of here over the past months and years, you’ve seen that Israel is green, right down to the edge of its southern ⅓. Desert then down to Eilat, at the southern tip.

Here I was then, at Ramat Hanadiv, very close to the Mediterranean shore. A rocky high ground, what I saw was a carpet of wildflowers. Oh, My Goodness! Butterflies were my quest, but lately my eyes lock onto beautiful wildflowers, especially those new to me.

Rampion Bellflower. New to me. Now to capture a good image. I shot away. Pop, pop, pop . . . . . . .

I favored this image of a sweet HolyLand wildflower. I  was pleased to notice this little insect, and that tiny bonus, is Good, Very Good.

My plan is to return to Ramat Hanadiv, Mishmarot, Jerusalem, the Golan, the Galilee, Carmel, but, so far not a one of you has hearkened to the call: go and trail with Jeff, in . . . the HolyLand.

Jeff

I Thought, ‘How Beautiful!’

Nerved-Calyx Stachys wildflower, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

I’m alone on a trail at Ramat Hanadiv. The end of winter in Israel, Middle Eastern winter. Winter rains and itsy bitsy snow was the ‘deposit.’ Wildflowers everywhere here was the ‘withdrawal.’ 2016 and I’m Blessed to be in Israel once again, March 2016.

Butterflies. My eyes are triggered to see them flying, perched, nectaring, mud puddling, here there and everywhere. These recent years, I’ve sought to be acutely aware of beautiful flowers and extraordinary native botany.

Here’s a bounty of that visual scanning thing. Saw it, liked it, examined it and concluded, Don’t know it but like it. Half way around the world, and it made me think: The Jews saw it here, the Romans saw it here, the Greeks saw it here, the Crusaders saw it here, the Christians saw it here, the British saw it here, the Turks saw it here and the Arabs saw it here. Sobering.

Nerved-Calyx Stachys is found north of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and all the way to the upper Galilee and the Golan Heights. It blooms predictably in March and April. It’s demure and fascinating.

Come in 2017 and we’ll search it out. Serious. You know who you are.

Jeff

Protected Parnassian (Enjoying Life)

Allancastria Cerisyri butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

March 2015, and me and my trusty Hertz rental car have found our way up to Northernmost Israel, and my objective, these protected members of Family Papilionidae. I arrived in Israel the first week in March, and some days later, here I was. These males, of species Allancastria Cerisyi Speciosa, were flying at least two weeks earlier than predicted by the field guides. I was thankful for that, and encouraged that this early flight was in part in my honor. They typically fly in March, only.

He was nectaring on these pert little purple blooms, and he was a fine specimen, bedecked in his yellows, black, red and blue, complemented by those racy red eyes.

I was in Israel, enjoyed my grandsons, savoring the absolute beauty of this Land, and grateful to meet many of its most beautiful winged beauties.

Have you booked your flight to the Holyland yet? You will never forget the experience. It ain’t Nepal. It’s a whole other level. No?

Jeff

Hermon Iris Revisited (Protected)

Hermon Iris photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Northernmost Golan,  Israel

Don’t we all have memories that warm us up when they flash into our consciousness? This image of a Mt. Hermon Iris just did that for me. It brought back memories of a certain moment on a streetcorner in Manhattan (New York, NY), one morning on  campus in college, a stand of native Columbine I once had, and sooo much more. Oh, and then there were the magical minutes when as a college-poor messenger, I was given a package to deliver to a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall and instead of taking it from me, the Rockettes’ staff said, “Yeah, take it in there to her” and into the Rockettes’ dressing room I went. ‘Nuf said. Right?

This was such an experience. On a trail in northernmost Golan, Israel, near the security fence insuring that Israel and Lebanon stay safely apart, we turned a corner of the trail, and there they were: Iris hermona. Knockouts! Knockouts they were. We stopped. I admired and I shot them from here and there, there and here. Film, hand-held. Here’s the product. I cannot explain why, but this still gives me a rush.

Don’t bother searching the corners of the image for butterflies. It was butterflies that I came thousands of miles to find and shoot. This gem was unexpected, just as they said, “Yeah, take it.” to the 19-year old me just off the corner of Avenue of the Americas and 51st (?) street.

Jeff