Bulletin! New Central Georgia Tradition

Stanley L on the porch, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA Porch

Reports keep coming in. Increasing numbers of Georgians, and lately folks from out of state, come to visit the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. Founded in 2014, the stream of visitors in 2015 grew, and 2016 visitor logs convincingly show ever larger attendance. Founder Virginia C Linch, always understated, confirms that lovers of beauty, admirers of butterflies, wildflowers, birds, bees and dragonflies, to name the most enthusiastic, visit as often as they can get there.

I myself have driven down from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania many times these last 2 years. Why? Nowhere else from Maine to the Florida Panhandle am I likely to see and photograph an artist’s palette of different butterflies. On top of that, you never, never know when a very rare, very exotic butterfly may just fly in, and save you hundreds of miles of driving around the South, searching for that very same sweetpie.

When Virginia suggested to Bartow and Roger the addition of a ‘porch’ that would appeal to your memories of sitting on the old homestead porch, rocking the time away with family and neighbors, well, in short time there it was, the ‘faux porch.’ Not its official name, but how I think of it. I’ve enjoyed the porch and its donated rockers many times. After 3-4 hours of working the Briar Patch on a July morning ( 8 AM to 12 PM ), it’s worth $ 1,000,000, me sitting there, enjoying my Coco Loco bar, chatting with other visitors, calling friends and awaiting the arrival of Virginia, Sylbie, Cathy, Kelly, Phil, Dave, Jim, Susan or whoever.

With 2017 now upon us (Yay!!) this new tradition, lolling the time away on the BBBriar Patch porch is expected to continue to grow and spread. The charge? Free. The view? Well, spectacular? The opportunities to Connect? Endless, especially with the Maker. The reception you will get? Unforgetable. The sincerity of that hosts? 100% solid gold.

Here we have Stanley Lines, an early, and stalwart supporter and friend of the BBBriar Patch Habitat, on the porch. In Eatonton, relaxed and calling you, to wit, when shall we expect your arrival?


Syria, Butterflies and 2008

Cattle on Mt. Hermon, Israel photographed by Jeff Zablow, 6/16/08

These cattle are doing what they used to do, for perhaps hundreds of years. Their Arab owners lived down the mountain, in Syria. Why they chose to climb 7,000 feet to the peak of Mt. Hermon, still puzzles me. When Eran Banker guided me across the top of this peak, at the northeastern edge of Israel’s Golan region, I was surprised to see . . . cattle. We came up on a ski lift, then hiked across the mountain top. The cattle climbed the mountain. City boy remains baffled by this.

I was up there to find as many of the very rare butterflies of Mt. Hermon as I could. Some of those species can be found nowhere else in the world, only on this mountain top. In one case, as of 2 years ago or so, my images were the only ones of a species of butterfly, on the entire internet.

It was June 16th, and very, very hot on the mountain. Eran, a bull of a man, carried many liters of water for us. No water means, they see your car down at the lift base, at the end of the day, and when they search for you up there, are forced to contact your family to . . . . It’s the Middle East, and mountain-top or not, it’s arid, drier than dry. How do the cattle endure it up there, I have zero idea.

Cringe at this. This 2017, the background of Syria is a killing field. I expect that the villages there are either leveled or full of murderous ISIL or Rebels or Hezbollah or Hamas or Iranian Regulars or Russian ‘advisors’ or Assad’s Army and/or all of them together. The farmers and ordinary folk who lived down there, as you look at those 80 miles of land, dead or fled.

The Middle East has long, long been torn by violence. It came in fits and waves. This is such a time, and when I fly there on March 28th, you need not worry for Jeff, for the reason that those barbarians do not cross that border, is a very strong, very well armed and very disciplined Israeli military. And, after many years, Israel’s Big Buddy, the USA has reaffirmed that in the ‘schoolyard’ of the Middle East, Israel has a very capable Big Buddy, who would prefer that no schoolyard bullies show their face.


Teary Moments . . . .

Earring Series - Jeff with Black Swallowtail Earrings (Best shot), at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

This is the shot with the Eastern Black Swallowtails fully on my right ear.

She battled Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma from the moment she was diagnosed, nearly eight years and Stem Cell Transplant later. Leukemia’s ‘side-effect’ so weakened her, that the Hillman Cancer Center specialist told her, at her demand, that there would be no last-ditch sprint to the NIH in Washington, DC, for if she could not walk in the door, they would not treat her. She thanked him, demanded that we all go home for our Sabbath night meal, and passed away some 3 hours later.

Frieda A”H was in Hillman for a total of 150 nights, and her last 2 years were horrific. She was home one-half of the time those last years. She demanded that I continue my field excursions to find and photograph butterflies. She loved my work, and she loved beauty.

There have been less than a handful of times that I have come to tears in the field, after butterflies have startled me with inexplicable behavior? The first was with that Mourning Cloak. Now I must stop for a moment, for that Mourning Cloak rocked my boat.

This experience, chronicled in our new Feature, ‘Jeff’s Earrings,’ took me to a tear in each eye, with Sylbie there to capture it on film. My strong, strong resolve to not cry before women (Yes, guilty as charged) prevented me from a full cry.

When we posted ‘Jeff’s Earrings,’ I invited friends on NABA-CHAT to see it, and many hundreds accepted my invitation. Dozens of Georgians came too. Teary moments in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia. The best place to see scores of different butterflies, no better place from Toronto to the Florida Panhandle.

Some have shared experience with butterflies that reduced them to pudding, so to speak. What do you make of this? Why? What are the associations that we make that open the floodgates of emotion? I ask you this.


Agree or Disagree?

Years and years into photographing butterflies now, and you would think that I would be steadily approaching, well, saturation. If that makes sense to you, surprise! The challenges, opportunities and thinking continues, unabated, and not diminished. Here’s an example of a present new idea of mine.

I shot this exposure of an American Copper some years ago. When I light boxed the dozen or more images of it, I was very Happy with this one. Very. Some of you may think: I see things here that Jeff likes. Others of you may think: Why does this image stand out from the nearly 800 in wingedbeauty’s Media Library?

Me? I have always liked this share of the head. Michal has 2 Shih Tzus, and they used to refer to them as ‘pookies.’ Small, and very cute. Munchkin and Shnookie were, and are, even at 12 and 13 years. This head struck me at first sight as a ‘pookie.’ Eyes, palps and sweet antennae. The left wings, ventral sides, are clear, colorful and dramatically colored. Those wings are fresh and not bird-struck. The legs are nicely shared, and set in a way that pleases the eye. The plant stem that this Copper is standing on boasts those fascinating fibers over its length, and that stalk is set at a slight angle, adding personality to the image. The leaves toward the right of the image bear red borders/veins, further jazzing up the shot. Bonus to all is the background, a comely green, minty and persuasive to the eye.

Digging further, a Georgia friend recently shared that she had never yet seen an American Copper butterfly. As soon as she wrote that, my mind shot to this look, and that was the ‘seed’ that led to this very post. Thanks Nancy.

Sometime soon we will add a new Feature to wingedbeauty.com, Jeff’s 8 (10?) Favorite Images. This should be amongst those 8 or 10, for how many times I’ve scrolled down the Library, and stopped to smile at this one.

Do you Agree or Disagree that this photo deserves broad exposure?


Viceroy Butterfly Resting

Viceroy Butterfly at rest (right side), photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

She is resting in the Habitat flora on a hostplant. Males have been making their moves on her, fine as she is, and between nectaring and shooing suitors, she must be bushed. Judging from her distended abdomen, she may well have a goodly number of Viceroy caterpillar eggs developing. That must make the attention of those males all the more exasperating. Don’t they get it?

We are in the Butterflies & Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, and Georgia sports those especially colorful Viceroy butterflies that the South is so proud of.

Hiding, the morning sunlight nicely streaks through her hindwings, and I like that. I like this little vignette, seen on  summer morning in one of the most beautiful places east of the Mississippi. Do Not doubt me.