A Whole Life of Scanning

Jenny Jean took this photo of me, scanning the bushes, trees and skies. She came highly recommended, a professional photographer charged with capturing images that demo what I do while on those trails, in those meadows and fens . . . how and what I do while on the hunt for butterflies. She’d already shot my greeting cards of Petra and I, the cards I send out each year to friends and associates, Christmas time and when I just want to stay connected with you and with my family. The Petra & Jeff cards are wildly popular, and still hang on I don’t know how many refrigerators and office walls.

This shot here, so sums up what I do these recent years, and what how I’ve managed to survive this long. As a kid in Brooklyn, I had to always be ready, always scan way down the street, scan what’s going on on those Brooklyn corners. In the New York National Guard, I used the scanning techniques they taught us at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, all that preparation for where they said we were headed: Viet Nam. Same went for OCS (Officers Candidate School), scanning the horizon, the trees and tree tops, the sky, the ground for hidden armature. Me, a high school Dean, and a high school Biology teacher in New York City and later in Pittsburgh. My city kids were a handful, and I always scanned, scanned, scanned. When I left teaching for that decade, and managed real estate in NYNYork, life was safer when you scanned those East Village, Chelsea, SoHo, Tribeca, West Village, etc. streets in the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s.

An epiphany that. I’ve spent my whole life preparing for this search for butterflies. I’ve been scanning since I was a little kid. To this day, when I hear a helicopter coming toward me, low in the sky, I began scanning it, only minutes later realizing that it’s not a threat to me, and I’m not toting ordinance.

Scanning has led to many successes, had me seeing tiny or well hidden rare butterflies, when others might have missed seeing them. Scanning has me seeing beauty, and many atime, it was prudent that I not be seen noticing such, ‘though I did.

A whole life of scanning, from the New York City transit systems subways, to this trail, named Nichol Road trail in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, eight hours west of Times Square, New York, New York.

Scanning is good, good for eye health and good for helping you achieve that goal of goals: survival.

Jeff

‘I Want To Go Home, Where I Belong, I’m Just A . . . . ‘

I’m not totally sure why this song popped into my head, but it well sums up those many years of seeking butterflies, without you there with me. Having you there to together eyeball the terrain and vegetation for butterflies makes the quest for fresh, unique, new and rare butterflies so much more successful Talking while on trail does not cause them to flee, for they do not much hear human speech.

Those of you who are expert in plant ID are a big boon to finding butterflies, for being able to identify flowers, leaves, hostplants, fruit and all gives you advantage, for it helps anticipate what butterflies you may meet here and there. Barbara Ann Case A”H and Mike Barwick and Rose and Jerry Payne, Phil Delestrez, Nancy and John Crosby and Jerry Amerson all excelled when I was lucky enough to work trails with them.

2020 is slowly coming to a butterfly-seeking close, and 2021? I very, very much want to Bust-Out in this 2021. So many write of the disappointment of 2020 I’ve felt them too, and what tantalizes me? Several folks have nicely offered, without me asking, to show me destinations. Destinations! 2021, the Kid from Brooklyn (originally LOL) maybe meeting knowledgeable, good and sharing folks who know, and who guide us to potent destinations? WoW!

With former friends dismissive of what I (we?) do, and family no keen too (“Bugs!”), 2021, traveling to meet new friends who are steeped in knowledge of butterflies and where to find them, has my brain erupting in song, as this Rock ‘N Roll song, that somehow connects here, ‘I Want To Go Home, Where I Belong, I’m Just A . . . . ”

Shown? Nichol Road Trail, Raccoon Creek State Park, southwestern Pennsylvania, U.S.A.. If you’d been there, Oh My Goodness!

Jeff

Free Flying Happiness On the Peak of the HolyLand

Jeff Zablow on Peak of Mt. Hermon Israel

This is an image of Sheer Happiness. Where? I’m on the peak of Mt. Hermon, at the northeastern corner of the HOLYLAND/Israel. Mentioned in the Old Testament more than once, I am standing on an ageless mountain crest,. Behind me you see more of Mt. Hermon’s top, not 100 feet but many miles of mountaintop. Beyond that? Lebanon. A country once proud and prosperous, now overtaken by devilish Hezbollah.

That smile? It was June 2008. Frieda A”H Z”L had passed in January, after an almost 8 year struggle. The last year of her life I was her Caregiver. I cooked and did all, for Frieda, who until the onslaught of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, cooked, baked, cleaned, sewed, knit . . . did it all, in the European-Polish traditional manner. Our 4 children all excelled. We sat at graduations at America’s fine universities.

Me the street kid from Brooklyn (forget the glasses and such, I fought, much) who survived knives, guns and such, who graduated from OCS a newly minted artillery officer, Dean in a New York City High School who took guns, knives, chukka sticks, pipes from HS guys, had to watch helplessly as Frieda slowly weakened. Helplessly.

Frieda always told me to do what makes me Happy! She knew that photographing butterflies? I loved doing that!! She urged me to go and shoot, even when I was caregiving that last year. She’d say go, ‘Don’t worry about me.’ I went, and always rushed home after.

So here I am on this ancient G-d Loved mountaintop. Eran Banker, my guide took this pic. I am where I dreamed of, the peak of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the peak that Moses must have seen but never visited. We found, and I photographed many, many very rare butterflies. It was maybe 94F or 96F up there, desert-like, no wind . . . SPECTACULAR.

I was finally Happy again, I knew real Love, and it was as if She told me to be right there. To Smile. To Appreciate having survived poverty, the Streets, carrying long steel, and the Love of a Good Woman and to Reflect on being the Father of 4 Healthy, Happy capable children.

I surely must have been remembering Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Success.

This pic, for me? Priceless. A Thank G-d Moment.

Jeff

Found! Another Difficult to Find HolyLand Butterfly

Cyaniris antiochena butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Northernmost Golan, Israel

How much does it take to please you? Me? This image did it for me. I found her in the Upper Golan region of the HolyLand. Cyaniris Antiochena Antiochena flies from April to May in the Golan and Upper Galilee regions fo the HolyLand/Israel.

Went there to visit family, and to bring back images of rare butterflies, for you to enjoy. I had no guide, no tips from experts or those in the know. I have a field guide, and good maps. G-d was there for me in the HolyLand, enabling me to achieve my goal of finding butterflies that are 1/2 way around the world, and endangered and difficult to find or shoot.l

I just Googled this one, and Daddah! my image came up immediately! That pleases me, alot. A rare Blue butterfly where Th-y once walked. Still pleasing us, today.

Jeff

He Was Gifted With . . . (Neve Ativ/HolyLand)

Lycaena Thersamon butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

We’re sure out there looking for things. Most, I’d think are looking for a) Rare Butterflies. b) Butterflies We’d Seen Once or Twice Before  c) Butterflies Blessed With Exceptional (Special) Beauty. When you’re out in the field, and you spot such, your blood pressure goes wuuupP up! Me, then, I talk to myself, in my head, tell myself what I need to do to maybe, maybe capture a good image of the extraordinary butterfly before me.

This was such a butterfly, Lycaena Thersamon, in a meadow at the edge of a small moshav (town) on the slope of mighty Mt. Hermon. The Upper Golan region of the HolyLand has many many rare and many many fresh butterflies. The snow covered mountain feeds streams that descent Mt. Hermon and water the entire region for many months after. No wonder the habitat, drenched in sunshine daily, is just plain . . . gorgeous.

I Love the color of his wings. My goodness.

Jeff