Sundays always include breakfast at the Filling Station Café and Diner in Navasota. When Ronnie and I came here a year ago to buy our house on Church Street, we stopped at the café to have coffee and pie. Mitch, the owner, gave us an overview of the town while we enjoyed the best cherry pie I've had in years. (And yes, the a la mode was a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream from the creamery in Brenham, a mere 30 miles away.) Mitch was our first acquaintance and is now a good friend. We eat at his place a couple of times a week, and one of those times is on Sundays.
In good weather the place is packed with weekend bikers, antique-hunters, and Aggie tailgaters. The FM (farm-to-market) roads are ideal for motorcycles, the antique stores in Navasota and surrounding towns are stocked with second-hand trash and hidden treasures, and Texas A&M University is only 18 miles north of the Navasota city limits. Football is a religion in Texas and our fighting Aggies have a congregation that comes from near and far to stand as one... as the team's symbolic 12th man. (If I have to explain the 12th man to you, I won't because you don't know enough about Texas traditions to understand anyway.) Navasota has a slew of B&B's that fill up on the weekends of home games.
Today is not a good weather day. In fact, it' cold and wet outside, and most people are snuggled in their homes with the thermostat on 78 and a fire blazing in the den. We hadn't been out all weekend, and we were starving for good food and interesting conversation, so we bundled up and headed for the café about the time the church crowd let out. The church-goers who wanted to skip home cooking drove through the Dairy Queen across from the school administration building to pick up burgers or through Church's out by Wal-Mart to get a bucket of fried chicken. The rest of them drove straight home where, I'm guessing, based on my own memories of Sunday family mid-day meals, roast beef or baked ham and garden vegetables awaited. They'll spend this afternoon watching the Dallas Cowboys play the Greenbay Packers. Like I said, football reigns in Texas.
When we got to the café, the parking lot was less than half full. Veteran waitress Chrissy greeted us and brought us steaming mugs of coffee. I washed down my prescription pills and ordered the egg and vegetable flour burrito. I hadn't had it before, and my eyes got big as the moon when she brought out an order that would easily feed a family of four. I ate what I could and boxed the remainder for Ronnie to have in the morning. He had the "4X4," which consists of 4 eggs, 4 meats, hash browns or grits, biscuit or toast, and 2 pancakes.
Mitch came over to say hello and we got into a lively conversation about the price of gas and the significant layoffs in the oil industry that are being predicted. It will be the 1980s all over again. Texas has been golden while the rest of the nation has struggled with city governments in other states going bankrupt, but now it's our turn, and it won't be pretty. We also discussed Ronnie's and my plans to go to Cuba in May, the politics around the proposed bullet train from Houston to Dallas, and the idea of balancing the federal budget with a valued added tax (VAT) on merchandise rather than an income tax.
Good food and interesting conversation are the staples of small towns, and our friend Mitch offers both at his Filling Station Café and Diner.