“Excuse me. Do you have any 30-pound bags of Mature Adult, Large Breed dog food? I didn’t see any on the shelf.” The pet store was my final stop before heading home.

“If you wait a minute, I’ll check in the back.”

“I’d like a couple of bags if you have them,” I called after her. “We have two large, hungry dogs.”

While minutes clicked by, I observed various dogs and owners sniffing around the store. I checked my cell phone for email three times and thought about everything I needed to do when I got home.

“Could you tell me if the clerk is still in the back looking for dog food for me?”

“Yes, she’ll be right with you.”

At last, she returned carrying a bag. “All we have is Senior Large Breed. Is that OK? The only difference between Mature Adult and Senior is less calories and more vitamins for joint health.”

“I guess I’ll have to take it because I’m down to less than a bag.”

“If you give me your number, I’ll call you when we get a shipment.”

“Thank you, I’d appreciate that. Our dogs go through two 30-pound bags every month. Since they’re now 5 and 7, we just changed from 1-5 years to Mature Adult. They’ve done well with this brand, and I’d hate to mess up their diet.”

Half an hour after I entered the store, I steamed across the parking lot pushing the shopping cart. I pitched the 30-pound bag of Senior Large Breed into the back of the car.


Ice storm at Vanaprastha

Wheeling the cart back to the return area, I looked up. Sunlight broke through the clouds hanging over Afton Mountain. Ice from the morning’s freezing rain created an ethereal beacon. If I hadn’t been delayed in the pet store, I would have missed this glorious scene.

Driving east over the mountain through backlit ice, I descended into the warmer Rockfish Valley and turned south on 151. Past Nellysford, I navigated two curves then accelerated to the 55 mph limit, bound for home.

Dead ahead, on a narrow stretch of the road, two on-coming cars had stopped. A chubby cinnamon-colored Pomeranian wandered around the cars as if confused. Braking to a crawl, I missed hitting the dog, which suddenly crossed in front of me. A man, perhaps the owner, scooped up the pup in my rearview mirror.

I wondered what else I might have missed if it weren’t for the delay.


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