Ah… Independence Day; a day designed to emancipate ourselves from those things taxing both our bodies and minds.
On Wednesday, the Fourth of July, I was reprieved a day from my dutiful efforts in bringing to you all the area’s sporting news possible. And while my colleagues journalistically jostled with the news of the day, I was lucky enough to spend the morning alongside the love of my life in one of our favorite places.
My fiancée and I visited Lu Mil Vineyard in Dublin.
The family farm of the late Lucille and Miller Taylor, the Bladen County vineyard produces fresh muscadine grapes and award-winning estate wines.
Wednesday was our second stay at Lu Mil Vineyard. We first stayed in one of its nine cabins in August 2016 on our first anniversary.
Last week’s stay was less eventful than our first. That summer we took part in a wine tasting, went on a self-guided pedal bike tour and I ate my first tomato sandwich.
Before moving forward with this column, I feel as though I should justify my lack of eatery experience with that lauded southern staple — tomato sandwich.
I’m from New York.
I grew up with a strong distaste for the tomato. I would not eat one on a turkey sandwich, let alone in any form of a salad.
It wasn’t until August of 2016, while sitting at Lu Mil’s outdoor patio, listening to live music and sipping my second glass of Sir Walter Raleigh, that I was enlightened.
The vineyard sometimes grows its own tomatoes.
A young lady stood with a jar of Duke’s mayonnaise, a sack of Sunbeam split-top white bread, salt, pepper and an assortment of the plumpest and healthiest tomatoes I had ever seen.
Unfortunately, Lu Mil Vineyard did not grow its vine-ripened tomatoes this season. Nonetheless, the farmers there converted this longtime ’mater hater into a lover of that simple sandwich.
And that’s not all Lu Mil Vineyard’s done for me. It’s given Jimena and me a place to ponder upon when life hastens, and it seems as though there no refuge in sight.
The vineyard — at 428 Suggs-Taylor Road, Elizabethtown — has nine, private, quaint and comfortable cabins. It has a gift shop, fishing ponds, walking trails, gardens, camp sites, stage areas and a windmill, too.
Although we have only step foot within “Bladen County’s Best Kept Secret” twice, we speak about returning there frequently.
We’ve considered spending Christmas there, and when I learned that both of us were fortunate enough to share our Independence Day away from our offices, I quickly called the vineyard and made my reservation.
On Wednesday morning, awakened by the sunrise and simple singing from a bevy of Bladen County birds, I felt peacefully free and grateful.
As I sat silently, with a common coffee cup, on the back porch of the cabin, there weren’t any regalia, or overt patriotisms. Just the simple, soundless, sequestered serenity of what it truly means to feel free.
Shaun Savarese is a reporter with The Daily Record. Reach him at 910-230-2040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.