Among the charming qualities that make Charleston such a desirable destination for those touring from all over the world, is the remarkable history of the city. Whether it’s Civil War, architectural or social history, there are considerable reminders in the form of buildings, forts, and museums. Sadly, some of the history has been lost with time and changes, and one of the common sights hundreds of years ago that has disappeared is that of the towering wind mills that dotted the landscape. The prevailing coastal sea breezes became an energy source 300 years ago when Dutch engineers built the first wind mill in Charleston to power a matrix of saws to cut lumber. The same technology was eventually used to winnow and polish rice, and by the late 1700’s, there were windmills up and down the coast. The coming of steam power in the 1820’s spelled the end for the windmills, all of which have disappeared and are today only found in paintings and property records.

Lepidopteran Legacy

Historic Charleston is always awash with vibrant colors, typically from the assortment of lush plants and trees that have made the city’s scenic gardens such a pleasure for those who tour and visit each year. But also this time of year, we begin to have several months of butterfly migrations, and colorful, fluttering wings add a special grace all their own. Butterflies are known scientifically as lepidoptera, a word derived from the Greek lepid, meaning “scales” and ptera, meaning “wings”. Butterflies like the Gulf Fritillary pictured have wings filled with slender scales that absorb sunlight. Not only does the sunlight provide the butterfly with energy, but the scales refract the light into brilliant colors that attract other butterflies for mating, and warn predators that the wings may be poisonous.