My heart goes out to West

I know that everyone says, after a tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombing or the horrible explosion in West, Texas, that his or her “heart goes out” to the victims and survivors. But I honestly find my heart pounding with sorrow for the folks in West. I feel a stronger connection to them than I do to the people of Boston, just because I’ve been to or through West many times, whereas I have never been to Boston and I don’t know much about it.

The town of West has a large Czech population, and as I posted earlier in the week on my Facebook page, I was very happy to see that the Czech Stop had survived the explosion. I’ve stopped there many times on my way from Austin to Dallas. the Czech Stop is right on IH-35 about halfway between those two cities, and it’s a perfect place to stop and stretch one’s legs, get gas, use the AMAZINGLY CLEAN restrooms, and … buy some kolaches.

Oh, those kolaches! I don’t think I eat kolaches on any other occasion. I don’t think about kolaches on a regular basis, but when I used to drive north toward Dallas, as I got closer to West, I would start to see those billboards–“We gotcha kolache!”–and my mouth would start to water. What flavor of kolache to choose? I couldn’t pick just one, but of course, I couldn’t have every flavor … could I?

I mean, I had to restore my strength for driving, which would take at least two. Maybe a blueberry filled and a plain cream cheese. Then I might want to have a little late-night snack at the hotel tonight, or at whatever house I was staying. There was breakfast tomorrow morning, which might call for a savory kolache. Oh, the possibilities. And don’t forget to eat them all before they start to lose their pillowy softness.

Those kolaches and the AMAZINGLY CLEAN restrooms will always symbolize West, Texas, to me. The people have a great sweetness and an open-handed hospitality. I’m so very glad that the Czech Stop survived this disaster, and I really and truly feel sad for those in West who did not.