Emily Rice

Emily Rice is the Lifestyles Editor of The Bluefield Daily Telegraph and the Associate Editor of Prerogative Magazine.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I love my career path so much is that I never know how my day is going to end up. Sure, that can be tough to plan my life around sometimes, but I enjoy it. However, another reason I love my job so much is the opportunities it affords me.

This week, for a story, I had the privilege to attend Beagle Ridge Herb Farm’s annual Upick Lavender event with Bluefield Daily Telegraph photographer, Jessica Nuzzo. The farm is nestled into the mountains of Wytheville, Va. and going into the story, I knew we would be able to cut our own bundles of lavender and that is about all I knew.

We arrived at the farm on a beautiful Thursday morning, camera and notebook at the ready. We walked into the small shop on the property and were immediately overcome with beautiful smells, mostly that of, lavender. I’ve known the smell of lavender for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, my mother would spray my pillow with lavender and give me eye pillows filled with it. For those of you who may not know, lavender is a naturally calming scent. I’ve continued the practice into my adulthood and with the recent surge in the popularity of essential oils in mainstream culture, I diffuse lavender essential oils in my bedroom almost every night for a good night’s sleep.

Now, back to the farm. We were welcomed by an employee who walked into the shop holding a butterfly (magic?). She told us our contact, Ellen Reynolds, was currently giving a tour but we could wander the grounds while we waited. We entered the garden and the scent of lavender and sunshine filled our senses. The garden also has a bubbling fountain to add to the calming effect. I was in heaven as Jessica took photos and I snapped some with my phone. The employee, Catherine, ended up coming back out in the garden to ask if we wanted to see “her babies.” She quickly explained that her babies were the butterflies and we followed her to a nursery.

Again, I was reminded of my childhood. For a long time as a child, everyone thought I would end up being a scientist of some sort. In elementary school, I would find caterpillars on the playground and bring them home in my pencil boxes to raise as my own. I asked Catherine if I had done something bad as a child and she said as long as they lived, I raised them right. They did and most turned out to be moths but I still loved them and was fascinated by watching them make their chrysalis and emerge. I cried when we released them.

The operations at Beagle Ridge Herb Farm are much more advanced than a child raising caterpillars in jars with holes poked in the top. These caterpillars, as apparently all do, need a certain type of leaf and will grow to be monarch butterflies. I was able to hold of the little bright green cuties and I was in my element.

Soon, Ellen joined us and we started our tour of the farm which included their butterfly enclosure, an absolutely magical experience. It was a large mesh greenhouse with all the plants their butterflies needed and hundreds of butterflies lit on flowers as we wandered through.

In my job, I never know how my day will end up. Will I take a helicopter ride? Do I get to learn to stir apple butter at a church event? I may be assigned some breaking news that gets my adrenaline pumping. Perhaps I will even get to play with butterflies...and for all of this and more, I am extremely grateful.

— Contact Emily Rice at erice@bdtonline.com and follow her on Twitter @BDTrice