Sugarberry gave Fluff a final hug before picking up her suitcase and opening
the front door. She turned and glanced over the room one last time, then stepped out to
the front porch where Tabby and Chocolate Chip waited for her.
"Come on! Come on!" commanded Tabby, her red mane shining in the
early morning light. "You don't want to be late for your flight." She was tapping her pink
hoof impatiently on the porch railing.
"I just wanted to look everything over one last time," Sugarberry sighed.
"Sugarberry, you'll only be gone a few days; and I'll take care of the house and
Fluff for you," reassured Chocolate Chip as she took the suitcase from
Tabby was already prancing down the sidewalk, eager to get Sugarberry on her
way to a well-earned vacation at Birdwatch, a town in Rolling Hills. Sugarberry and
Chocolate Chip started down the porch steps after her.
"I hope I've remembered everything," worried Sugarberry. "I watered the plants,
mailed all the bills, took out the garbage..."
"Relax, Sugarberry!" Chocolate Chip laughed. "I'll be right here to take care of it
all!" Chocolate Chip roomed with Sugarberry while attending Pony Pride
"Don't forget to clean Fluff's litter box often; he's fussy about that."
"Sugarberry!" interjected Tabby. "You left Chocolate Chip a list of ‘Things To
Take Care Of' a foot long. Don't worry!"
Sugarberry smiled weakly. "Vacations are too nerve-wracking for someone like
me. I wish I were just staying home." She stopped in her tracks and looked wistfully
back towards her house.
"Don't get sentimental on us," snapped Tabby as she grabbed Sugarberry's hoof
and started her on her way again.
Just then a pair of beige mourning doves fluttered down to rest on the wooden
fence surrounding Snuzzle's lawn; their round black eyes viewed the Little Ponies
inquisitively amidst their gentle cooing.
"Remember to fill the bird feeders twice a day!" Sugarberry reminded Chocolate
"It's on the list," Chocolate Chip muttered.
Tabby turned to face Sugarberry. "Enough, Sugarberry. Lighten up. The whole
idea of this vacation was to get some peace and quiet among the birds you like so well.
Start enjoying it!"
"You're right, Tabby. I'm sorry." She smiled apologetically at her two best
friends. "I've always wanted to relax in a quiet, rural setting, and Birdwatch is the perfect
spot for that. As of right now, I'm having fun!"
With that settled, the three ponies continued on their way to the airport. Once
there, they took care of the baggage and ticket, and grabbed a glass of milk and a poppy
seed muffin in the food court while they waited. Tabby recounted her latest experience at
the Pokèmon Center. ".....so after the Muck was healed, we had to fumigate the entire
"Flight lll is now loading at Gate 2," suddenly came over the speaker system, and
Sugarberry jumped to her feet.
"That's my flight," she gulped. "I guess I have to go!"
Tabby winked at Chocolate Chip. "As tense as she looks, I think we'd better
guide her to Gate 2 to make sure she gets there."
So doing, they deposited Sugarberry at her gate and hugs were shared all around.
As Sugarberry proceeded down the ramp, she waved one final farewell and then
disappeared into the body of the gleaming silver airplane that waited patiently for lift-off.
Easing herself into a window seat, Sugarberry looked out to see Tabby and
Chocolate Chip waving from the observation deck. Sugarberry waved back, amid the roar
of the engines revving up. She fastened her seat belt and the plane moved out to the
runway, and, gaining speed, soon lifted off into the vast and empty sky. Sugarberry
reminded herself, I'm not afraid of flying; it's the crashing that worries me.
Peering at the ground below, she was able to catch a glimpse of her house before the
plane headed west across the green fields and glistening rivers.
Watching the beauty pass underneath, Sugarberry checked the time. Chocolate
Chip should be opening up the clinic by now. With her semester of classes
completed, Chocolate Chip was able to fill in for Sugarberry at the clinic for a few days.
Let's see, thought Sugarberry. Princess Tiffany is bringing in her black
Bombay, Theodora, first thing. I hope she remembers that Tiffany expects Theodora to
rest on that special velvet blanket during her examination.
The plane was already approaching the mountains that separated Dream Valley
from the Flatlands. Light, fluffy clouds hung about the highest peaks, but otherwise the
sky was brilliantly blue. Sugarberry recalled Clever Clover's journey across these
mountains to get to a summer job in the Flatlands. And there, down below, spread out
that great expanse of empty countryside, nothing but cropland for miles and miles in every
direction. She shuddered to think of crossing it on hoof, and was proud of Clever
Clover's success there.
The boringness of the landscape had just about put Sugarberry to sleep when the
terrain became more undulating; the contours of the land adding depth and interest to the
passing images below. River valleys cut between rounded hills covered with tress; this
was certainly the land of Rolling Hills. Sugarberry's eyes danced as the plane prepared to
land on an airfield in a broad valley; and soon, with a gentle bump, the plane was coasting
down the runway to the terminal.
After debarking and retrieving her luggage, Sugarberry looked around nervously;
she suddenly felt very lost and alone. The bed-and-breakfast where she would be staying
had said they'd send someone to meet her flight; but no one seemed to be looking for her.
She was just about to ask at the counter for directions when a young sea-green stallion
rushed into the terminal, his turquoise blue mane streaming behind. He quickly spotted
the white earth pony with strawberry design (Thank goodness I have an obvious
pattern, thought Sugarberry) and trotted up to her. "Miss Sugarberry?" he asked,
while reaching for her suitcase. Not waiting for a reply, he continued, "My name is Buck
and I'm from the Birdsong Bread-and-Breakfast where you'll be staying."
Sugarberry nodded and followed behind Buck as he headed outside; she had to
nearly run to keep up with Buck's long strides. He continued his monologue as they
headed down the street. "You've picked a good week to visit; the weather is going to be
warm and sunny, except for a shower passing through tonight. You'll get a lot of good
bird-watching in; the birds are busy feeding their nestfuls of young ‘uns."
By this time, they'd reached a path that led across a flower-strewn meadow that
ran along the meandering Laughing Lark River. Sugarberry fell behind as she enjoyed the
myriad variety of wildflowers that crowded up to the path.
Buck paused to wait for her. "You like flowers, do you? It's been a good year for
flowers. Plenty of rain and sunshine. My mom likes flowers, too. She and Dad are the
owners of Birdsong."
"Where exactly is Birdsong?" interjected Sugarberry quickly.
"Well, it's at the top of the hill over there." Buck pointed off to the right. "The
path curves into the woods and winds its way up through the tress until there you are--
Sugarberry silently assessed the distance, and wished she'd eaten lunch before
they'd left the terminal. As if reading her thoughts, Buck said, "Mom packed a lunch;
we'll eat it when we get to the woods. There's a picnic spot not too far in. You should
get your first look at the birds while we eat-- grosbeaks, warblers, finches, quail-- you
name it, we got it."
Buck seemed not to notice the abundance of bird life surrounding him in the
meadow. Tree swallows circled closely, feasting on the insects in the air. A meadowlark
serenaded his mate. A killdeer sent up her distress call as they passed her hidden nest.
Sugarberry saw several species she couldn't identify, and wished her guide book wasn't
buried in her suitcase.
Just as they reached the edge of the woods, a dark shadow passed over them;
Sugarberry looked up to see a black turkey vulture skimming majestically overhead; he
was so low, she could make out his bald red head; he was huge, and his wingspan was
awesome. He dipped around the trees and disappeared.
Now passing under the fully-leaved trees, the path began a gradual incline.
Patterns of sunshine danced between the leaves and gave the woodland a magical feel.
Before long, they had reached an opening in the tress with a picnic table and pump. Buck
got two tumblers out of his backpack, and while he cranked the pump handle, Sugarberry
filled the glasses with the fresh, crystal water. Buck set-up the simple fare of sandwiches
on home-baked bread, carrot and celery sticks, and a luscious chocolate brownie for
dessert. Sugarberry breathed deeply of the fresh air and sunshine, and enjoyed her lunch
surrounded by the beauty of nature. As she ate, the birds came out to investigate this
stranger in their haven. A chickadee hopped from branch to branch, calling his
"chick-a-dee-dee-dee" call as he went. Closer and closer he came until he sat within easy reach.
A Baltimore oriole sat on a high branch providing music while the white-crowned sparrows
scratched through the grass looking for crumbs that Buck tossed them. From a decaying
tree trunk at the edge of the clearing, a red-headed woodpecker added his "rat-a-tat"
drilling as back-up for the oriole's melody. Sugarberry sighed contentedly. This was
exactly what she had hoped her vacation to be. All was peace and harmony with only the
natural sounds of life floating through the air. Even Buck was quiet.
But the tranquility was interrupted as a squirrel scampered out on a branch over
the table and began dropping nutshells from his vantage point, accompanied by a shrill
chattering that sounded amazingly like a scolding.
Buck laughed. "Yes, little friend, it's time to move on." He and Sugarberry
cleaned-up, and resumed their trek up through the trees. "Lunch wasn't much, but wait
until tonight. Mom's roasting a turkey and all the fixings; and I'll be picking fresh
strawberries this afternoon for shortcake."
Sugarberry mentally apologized to Rex, her turkey friend, for looking forward to
such a delightful meal.
Buck continued to tell Sugarberry how he attended Binks University which was
located on the far side of Rolling Hills, but he spent his summer at home so he could help
his parents during their busiest season. "The bed-and-breakfast is booked solid from
spring to fall," he said proudly. "Mom and Dad make sure every visitor has a great
By now, glimpses of Birdsong were possible between the trees. The reason
Sugarberry had chosen this particular bed-and-breakfast was because of its Victorian
design-- she'd always wanted a bedroom with turret access. As they drew closer, the
turrets came sharply into view, one at each corner of the front facade. Sugarberry
squealed in delight.
"You like it?" Buck asked with pride showing in his eyes. "We changed her color
this spring-- she's a real ‘Painted Lady' now."
The house was painted a purplish pink with trim in purple, pink, and green-- truly
Buck led the way up the front steps and held the door for Sugarberry. "Welcome
to Birdsong!" greeted a vibrantly lively lavender pony with green mane and tail. She drew
Sugarberry into the gracious foyer. "Did you have a pleasant walk? And did my son
remember the lunch I sent along? He can be very forgetful if he starts daydreaming about
all that historical stuff he's studying in college."
Sugarberry turned her head to smile at Buck, but found that he had disappeared.
His mother continued. "Did he tell you he attends the university in Binks? But he never
misses a summer helping out his dad and I around here."
She stopped for breath, and lovingly caressed the banister of the main stairway. "I
was born in this house," she continued. "Buck was, too. It's a very special place to
Her eyes got a dreamy look for a second and then she exclaimed, "Where are my
manners? I'm Lilac." She extended her forehoof to Sugarberry. "And you are
Sugarberry. What a beautiful pony! But you must be tired from your journey. Follow me
upstairs to your room."
As Sugarberry followed Lilac up the gracefully winding staircase, Lilac pointed out
portraits of her family. "...and this one is my parents on their wedding day. And this one
is myself and Trendy when Buck was only a baby. He was our first. You'll meet his
brothers later; Tramples is working out in the garden and Licorice is probably hiding up a
tree somewhere reading an adventure story. That stallion can certainly make himself
scarce when there is work to be done!"
They had now reached the top of the stairs and Lilac moved down the hall to open
the door into Sugarberry's room. Buck had already delivered her suitcase to the room, so
there was one point of familiarity. But more than that, Sugarberry felt like she was
stepping into a dream-come-true. She was drawn immediately to the curving set of
windows that circled the turret. Lacy curtains framed a view of the woodland, and the
open windows wafted in the fragrance of flowers and the twittering of birds.
Sugarberry dropped onto the cushioned windowseat that ran under the windows
and gazed breathlessly around her. As a filly, she had often envisioned her own room in a
tower with just such a windowseat. She imagined spending countless hours curled-up
here lost in the pages of a good book, or working on the pages of a manuscript, or just
Sugarberry sighed deeply and looked at Lilac who was fluffing the many pillows
about the room. "This is perfect, Lilac! I'm going to enjoy every minute of my
"If you need anything, just let one of us know. You'll have time to rest before
supper, or you can walk the grounds. But don't be late! I've got a special meal cooking
in the kitchen," informed Lilac.
Once Sugarberry was alone, she unpacked her suitcase and washed up. The room
felt like it was her very own by then; she could live a life of Victorian luxury for a couple
of days! And I don't even have to cook! Sugarberry rejoiced. This is too good
to be true.
Taking up the new journal that she'd packed especially for this vacation,
Sugarberry spent her time recording her memories of the day--- with frequent
interruptions to simply gaze out the window at the peaceful countryside. In no time at all,
the dinner bell sounded, and Sugarberry hungrily headed for the dining room.
Rich walnut wainscoting and heavy ornate furniture presented a feast for the eyes,
while the air was filled with the luscious smells of a holiday feast for the palate. Gathering
around the table were the other four guests of Birdsong. Lilac introduced the ponies to
each other. Besides Sugarberry, there was one married couple from the Flatlands--Audrey
and Popcorn; Vanguard, a stallion who taught college mathematics at Binks University;
and a Friendship Gardens pony Sugarberry had never met before by the name of Merry
After eating, Sugarberry, Merry Moments, and Vanguard took a walk past the
gardens and orchards of Birdsong, and along a curving path to a gazebo set under a
spreading maple tree. There they sat and talked as the sun set and dusk began to
Back in her room, Sugarberry prepared for bed, and switched off the light. Before
crawling into bed, she sat in the windowseat listening to the muffled sounds of the
nighttime animals. Over the breeze came the haunting "whoo-whoo-whoo" of an owl, and
the clanking of a garbage can as a raccoon carried out his evening raid. Yawning heavily,
Sugarberry finally climbed into bed, and sank almost instantly into a peaceful
A deafening boom of thunder jolted Sugarberry out of her dreamless sleep, and she
jumped out of bed to close the windows where the curtains flapped in the stiff breeze.
Cold raindrops pelted her skin before she finally managed to lower the last
Didn't Buck say there'd be a shower tonight? pondered Sugarberry.
But this is more than a shower! And although there were no more peals of
thunder, the rain continued to batter down. At least it came in the night and should be
cleared up by morning, thought Sugarberry as she returned to bed and let the barrage
of raindrops lull her off to sleep again.
Drip, drip, drip, drip. Sugarberry rolled over to look at her clock, and was
surprised to see that it was eight in the morning already; yet the morning light was grey
and sullen. The rain was falling at a steady rate, with no sign of letting up. Sugarberry sat
up and frowned out the window at the soggy-looking landscape. So much for
birdwatching this morning with Vanguard and Merry Moments, she muttered. But
then she brightened at the thought of a leisurely breakfast, and cheerfully made ready for
the new day.
When she arrived downstairs, she found Vanguard in the breakfast room just
pouring himself a cup of coffee. "Good morning, Sugarberry," he greeted her.
"Yes, please," Sugarberry smiled. "My mom and I used to share many a pleasant
conversation over a cup of coffee, but now none of my friends enjoy drinking it, so I've
gotten away from it." She slid onto a chair and Vanguard served her cup of coffee. At
that moment, Lilac cane bustling into the room from the kitchen, drying her hooves on her
"Extremely so," admitted Sugarberry, and Vanguard agreed.
"Good morning everyone," squealed Merry Moments as she breezed in. "Don't
you just love a rainy day?"
She was followed by a more subdued Audrey and Popcorn. "A rainy day is a
waste of good money," complained Audrey. "We'd planned on photographing birds
"We have games to play, movies to watch, and books to read," soothed Lilac. "I
promise you won't be bored. This rain should end very soon." But she worriedly looked
towards the window.
As Lilac returned to the kitchen to prepare breakfast, Buck and Trendy came in the
back door, raincoats shining with wetness, and water dripping eagerly into the carpet. The
river is rising fast," reported Buck. "If this keeps up, it'll overflow its banks by
"Oh, no!" groaned Lilac. "What about the homes in the valley?"
"Everyone is preparing for the worst; they'll evacuate in time," comforted Trendy
as he hugged his wife to him. "We can use any extra help we can get," he continued,
eyeing the group clustered around the table.
"Count me in," Vanguard volunteered immediately.
"I'll do what I can," added Sugarberry valiantly.
Merry Moment, too, offered to help. Audrey, however, crossed her forelegs
across her chest. "I didn't come here to risk my life out in a rainstorm," she griped.
Popcorn said nothing.
"First things first!" declared Lilac. "I'll have a hearty breakfast ready in no time;
then you will all be ready to battle the weather." Everyone pitched in to help while
Audrey smoldered in the background. She eventually declared that she had a headache,
and was retiring to her room. In the doorway, she turned and cast a commandeering
glance at Popcorn, who simply waved her on. Her hoofsteps could be heard angrily
echoing down the hallway.
"She'll be fine," Popcorn apologized. "She'll be out supervising the rescue efforts
once she realizes that no one if feeling sorry for her."
As soon as breakfast was over--very tasty, but not leisurely as Sugarberry had
hoped--rain gear was dug out of the closet and donned by all.
Out in the midst of the rain, Sugarberry found that the whole world was saturated
and running in rivulets in every direction. The group slipped and slid their way down the
path to the valley below Birdsong. Footing was treacherous, and Sugarberry slid to her
knees several times. The river, which had been a lazy silver ribbon upon her arrival, now
roared with anger as it carried the brown, dirt-laden torrents downstream. Trees and
garbage were being swept along its course. The situation suddenly became very
frightening to Sugarberry as she, Vanguard, and Buck turned south to help families in that
direction while Trendy led Merry Moments and Popcorn to the north.
The rain came down steadily around them, and even Sugarberry's untrained eye
could see that the banks of the river could not hold back the flow of ravaging water much
Nearing the first farm in the valley, Buck directed Sugarberry to help at the house
while he and Vanguard helped the farmer move his livestock to higher ground.
Sugarberry found a mother and daughter gathering together the few essentials that they
could carry away to safety. Thankful for the aid, they loaded Sugarberry down with items
that otherwise would have had to be left behind, like photographs and journals. Wrapping
everything in sheets of plastic, they were soon hurrying to take shelter with a family off the
floodplain of the valley. Once their possessions were safely stashed, the family joined in
with Buck and crew to help the next family down the river, and so their morning
Buck's estimate of when the river would finally spill over its banks was quite
accurate. By noon, the brown highway down the center of the valley had widened and
grown until it became a huge lake between the hills. The last farmstead still to be
evacuated was inundated with the dirty, smelly water as Buck, Sugarberry, and Vanguard
sloshed up to the open door of the house. A tearful mare stood wringing her hooves in
despair. Her husband was away from home, and she was unprepared for such a
catastrophe. Her five foals, including two sets of twins, were huddled behind their
mother; and clutched in the forelegs of the oldest foal was a wide-eyed black and white
Buck grabbed one set of twins, and Vanguard the other, while Sugarberry
scooped-up the cat, and the mother pulled the fifth foal along with her. No one said a
word until they reached a knoll from which they could pause to catch their breath.
Looking back, they saw the murky water already climbing the side of the house to the
height of the window sills.
"Thank God you got there when you did!" whispered the distraught mother. Tears
poured down her face, yet she smiled through the tears in thanksgiving. "We would have
been trapped...." Her voice broke as she buried her face in her hooves.
Buck gently hoisted up the twins again, and suggested that they hurry on before
the waters got even higher. Vanguard grabbed the others, and the tired group continued
to fight their way to higher, safer ground. Eventually, their route met up with a path that
Buck assured them would get them to Birdsong within a half hour.
But to Sugarberry, whose muscles were sore and aching, it seemed to take an
eternity. She clutched the wet and trembling cat to her chest, and painfully kept putting
one hoof in front of the other, over and over and over again. When she thought she
simply could go no further, Buck called out, "There she is! We're home!"
Once through the doorway, Sugarberry collapsed into the saving forelegs of
Audrey, who indeed had taken over the indoor aspects of this volunteer operation. She
gently helped Sugarberry to her room and drew her bath water, then left her to sink into a
soothing mound of fragrant bubbles. Sugarberry closed her eyes and let the warm water
draw out the pain and stiffness of her battered body. She tried to block out the vision of
the raging floodwater, but the constant beat of raindrops at the window would not allow
any relief. Tiredly, she stepped from the tub and wrapped a warm, soft towel around
herself and headed for the windowseat.
Even at its high vantage point at the top of the hill, Birdsong had the appearance of
a drowned rat. The trees were drooping, and brown rivulets ran everywhere. Flower beds
looked as if giants had stepped through them, and the garden appeared to be an eroded
A knock sounded at her door, and Sugarberry called, "Come in!" Audrey marched
into the room, closing the door behind her. "I brought you a mug of hot chocolate."
Audrey hesitated a moment before proceeding. "Lilac sent me to ask a favor of
Sugarberry stifled a yawn. "What is it?"
"That family you came in with needs a room, and with all the evacuees this
morning who came here for shelter, your room is the only one left. Would you mind
sharing it with Creampuff and her foals?"
Groaning inwardly at the realization that a good long nap was not to be her
reward, Sugarberry agreed. "Of course they can move in here! The more, the merrier!"
Opening the door, Audrey revealed five little ponies who were anxiously awaiting
the outcome of this traumatic day. As it turned out, the cat was the first one to saunter
into the room; she quickly determined that the bed was the place to be, and enthroned
herself comfortably in the center of it. She was followed by the foals and their mother.
Audrey disappeared back to her duties.
"Well, now we have time for introductions," Sugarberry smiled. "I'm Sugarberry,
and Audrey tells me your name is Creampuff." Scanning the faces of the foals clustered at
her hooves, Sugarberry asked, "And what are your names?"
Shyly, the oldest of the group responded, "Angela."
Appropriate, thought Sugarberry as she noted the pure white hair and the
delicate wings of the young pegasus.
The youngest pair of twins responded next. "Me Winkie. He Blinkie."
Sugarberry patted them on the head. "You two look exactly alike. How will I tell
"Me cuter!" replied Blinkie.
Last of all was the second set of twins--Jiggly and Wiggly. Jiggly was a prim and
proper pink female pony while Wiggly was a rough and tough blue male pony. Jiggly
climbed into the windowseat next to Sugarberry, and Wiggly jumped onto the bed next to
the cat while informing Sugarberry that the cat's name was Skunky, "cause he be black
and white, like a skunk."
"But he no smell like a skunk," added Jiggly.
How old is Skunky?" asked Sugarberry.
"Same as Winkie and Blinkie, " informed Wiggly. "We found him the same day
they were born."
"So you got two brothers and a cat all at once," commented Sugarberry.
Creampuff in the meantime had changed Winkie and Blinkie's diapers and put
them down on the bed for a nap, while convincing Wiggly to play quietly elsewhere. He
joined his sister on the windowseat. "Tell us a story." He looked expectantly at
So Sugarberry shared the tale of Tabby's adventure with Clever Clover to find
Atlantis. Angela sat at her feet while Jiggly and Wiggly snuggled close on the
windowseat. The day remained dark and dreary as the rain continued to fall outside the
windows. By the time the story was finished, the dinner bell was ringing; and the foals,
except for Winkie and Blinkie who were sleeping soundly, were more than ready to get a
Creampuff suggested that Sugarberry and the three young ones should go down to
eat while she stayed with the sleeping twins. "Just remember to bring food back for us
when you are done!"
Sugarberry descended the staircase with her three charges, and was met at the foot
of the stairs by Vanguard.
"How are you doing after this exceptional day?" he asked in concern.
"Ravenously hungry as always," Sugarberry confessed. "What about you? Have
you been out in the rain all day?"
"I helped Buck and Trendy see to the chores around here. They've got other folks'
animals to take care of out in the barn as well as a house full of Little Ponies to
Vanguard led Sugarberry and the foals to a table spread with food prepared by
Lilac and neighbors who had showed up to help feed the temporarily homeless inhabitants
of the valley. Birdsong had become a sanctuary for many.
Serving up buffet style, they soon had their plates loaded, and Lilac sent one of her
helpers up to Sugarberry's room with a tray for Creampuff and the sleeping babies.
Vanguard found a relatively quiet corner for them to eat. "Not quite the vacation you
planned, I'll bet," he grinned at Sugarberry.
"No, not exactly," she grinned back. "I was expecting peace and solitude and
being waited on like royalty." She grimaced as Wiggly spilled his glass of milk into
Jiggly's plate of food. Jiggly started crying as her mashed potatoes disintegrated and her
biscuit turned mushy. Sugarberry comforted her while Vanguard went to get a fresh plate
of food. Wiggly called his sister a sissy and begged for ice cream. When Vanguard
returned, Sugarberry went off in search of Lilac. "The foals want ice cream. Is there any
"Just go to the big freezer at the back of the kitchen," instructed Lilac. "You'll
find cones in the cupboard over the freezer and the scoop should be hanging off a hook
over the counter."
Sugarberry fixed three ice cream cones while envisioning Tabby and Chocolate
Chip enjoying a treat of the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe in the company of friends.
What would Tabby say if she knew I was vacationing with five baby ponies?
wondered Sugarberry suddenly. The thought made her giggle.
Vanguard walked Sugarberry and her charges back to their room. Upon opening
the door, they were met by shrill squeals from Winkie and Blinkie; they had been waiting
for their unsuspecting brother and sisters, and ambushed them by throwing pillows at
them. Vanguard quickly excused himself, and left the noisy melee. Sugarberry looked
after him wistfully, but steeled herself to enter the boisterous room full of flying pillows
and screaming children.
"Settle down, please," commanded Creampuff authoritatively. "And put all the
pillows back where you found them."
Angela immediately obeyed her mother, but Jiggly and Wiggly, along with Winkie
and Blinkie, undid her efforts as swiftly as she could straighten the pillows. Creampuff
finally sequestered each of them in a separate corner of the room for a ten-minute
Sugarberry joined Creampuff where she stood looking out the window at the rain
still steadily dropping down.
"Have you been able to contact your husband?" she asked Creampuff.
"I got a message through to him, so at least he knows we are safe here at
Birdsong. But he won't be home until tomorrow... weather permitting."
Sugarberry patted her hoof comfortingly. "He will be here before you know
Just then there was a loud crash from across the room. Wiggly had attempted to
take Sugarberry's binoculars down from the dresser, but had lost his grip and the
binoculars had thudded to the floor. "Oops," Wiggly grunted. "Me sorry." The
binoculars had hit the floor in such a way as to knock-off one of the eye-pieces. Wiggly
picked up the broken piece and held it to his eye to gaze through it.
"Wiggly!" his mother groaned. "You were supposed to be sitting quietly. Why did
you touch Sugarberry's binoculars?"
"Because they looked like fun."
"That's not a good reason to misbehave, Wiggly. You'll have to apologize to
Sugarberry and save your allowances until you can replace what you broke."
As that sunk in, Wiggly's face assumed a woeful expression. "That'd take
"And a good lesson for you, too!" his mother reprimanded.
Sugarberry went to Wiggly and retrieved the binoculars and the broken piece.
Looking it over, she comforted the unhappy little pony. "I think I can get this fixed," she
informed him soothingly.
"Really?" A grin brightened his face again. "That would be swell." All his
worries melted away in an instant.
But Creampuff got the last word in the matter. "No bedtime snack for you
tonight, young stallion!"
A knock at the door sent all five foals scurrying to be the first to open it. Jiggly
beat her twin by a heartbeat, and swung the door wide to reveal Buck with an armful of
games, coloring books, and puzzles to keep the ponies busy. And hopefully out of
mischief, thought Sugarberry.
Angela, Jiggly, and Wiggly settled down to a game of Trouble while Winkie and
Blinkie opened up the coloring book to a page with dinosaurs, and set about making the
barren picture a work of art. Sugarberry had to smile at their serious concentration over
choosing a crayon and trying to stay inside the lines. Skunky had joined the children on
the floor, and was contentedly batting crayons left and right.
This was the quietest time Sugarberry had experienced on this hectic day, and she
realized how tired she felt. It would feel good to crawl into bed tonight.
Creampuff seemed to read her mind. "The kids and I will sleep on the floor, of
course; Lilac had blankets sent up earlier. They will make a fine bed."
Sugarberry's vision of peaceful slumber evaporated as she found herself saying,
"Oh, no, Creampuff; you and the two littlest ones could easily fit in the bed. I'll sleep on
the floor with the other three."
"But, Sugarberry, this is your vacation!"
"Yes it is, so I get to make the decision. You get the bed."
Smiling gratefully, Creampuff announced that she was going downstairs to get
milk and cookies for everyone except Wiggly. "Start cleaning up your games and crayons,
Angela was doing an excellent job supervising pick-up, so Sugarberry decided it
would be a good time to write in her journal. Going to the bedside stand where she had
set it, she found nothing. But looking down, she caught sight of it sticking out from under
the bed ruffle. Picking it up, she sat on the edge of the bed and opened it to yesterday's
entry. Flipping the page, she gasped. The pages bad been filled with a babyish scrawl of
crayola markings; Sugarberry flipped through the entire journal, and hardly a page had
been spared. Sugarberry peered intently at Winkie and Blinkie who were competing with
Skunky to retrieve all the loose crayons. She could hear Tabby's voice as clearly as if the
pink unicorn was sitting beside her-- "I've always told you baby ponies are
"Does anyone know who is responsible for this?" Sugarberry asked severely as she
held up the messy pages for all to see.
"Me write story," admitted Blinkie. "Tell about rain. Water everywhere.
Sugarberry save us." Blinkie came to Sugarberry and crawled into her lap. Flipping to
some pages with squiggly lines and zig-zags, he added, "This say ‘I wuv you,'
Sugarberry gazed in wonder at the little foal and a tear slid from her eye and down
her cheek. She hugged the little guy to her and was soon engulfed in hugs from all the
gang, with the entire lot of them toppling over on the bed amid giggles and kisses. When
Creampuff returned with Lilac's generous snack, they were still untangling one another
from the happy heap.
"It looks like you all got along well together," Creampuff commented as she set
the tray of cookies and milk on the tea table.
Smiling broadly, Sugarberry confirmed their comeraderie. "You've got a beautiful
family, Creampuff. You and Jingle must be very proud!"
"Indeed we are," Creampuff responded. "Even if they can be a hoof-full at
Angela helped her mother portion out the Craisin cookies and fresh, wholesome
milk. Even Skunky got a little saucer of milk, and a dish of cat-food. Winkie and Blinkie
got sleepy as they ate, so Creampuff tucked them into bed for the night. Sugarberry
placed blankets on the floor in the turret section of the room to make a snug nest for
herself, Jiggly, Wiggly, and Angela. Jiggly decided a tent would be neater, and proceeded
to drape the blankets over furniture to accomplish her task, much to the enjoyment of
Wiggly, who agreed that a tent was much more fun. After several collapsed "tents",
Sugarberry helped the twins anchor the blankets securely under and over the chair to make
a cozy cover which did indeed make a welcome sanctuary for another night filled with the
sounds of the falling rain pattering steadily against the window.
Crawling into their improvised tent, Wiggly and Jiggly could be heart giggling and
talking as they exchanged bedtime stories. Sugarberry had just settled onto the window
seat with some sheets of notebook paper to record her memories of the day. The twins'
chatter provided a pleasant backdrop to her thoughts when suddenly Wiggly's voice called
in alarm, "Jiggly, a snake!"
At those words, Sugarberry instantly swung her legs up on the cushions in dreadful
fear of any slithering serpent, her eyes glued to the eruption of activity from the tent as
Jiggly screamed and fought her way from under the blankets causing the shelter to
collapse around her.
Creampuff rushed to rescue a crying Jiggly while a long, low, lean form slithered
under the blankets, like a mole tunneling under the surface of the lawn and burst forth into
view amidst a peal of laughter from Wiggly, who was still a hidden blob under the covers.
For the unwelcome guest wasn't a snake at all-- only Skunky, who had wormed his way
into the coziest spot in the room.
Wiggly, still laughing wildly, finally appeared while Creampuff tried to comfort
Jiggly; and Sugarberry tried to quiet her thumping heart.
"You sissy, Jiggly!" Wiggly gasped in delight. "It was only Skunky's tail, and you
thought it was a snake!"
Frowning austerely, Creampuff rebuked her jovial son while the hint of a smile
played across her features. "Wiggly, you set Jiggly up. You know her fear of snakes
would cause her to react in panic. Now you apologize to your sister. And to Sugarberry,
too," she added as she noticed her roommate's distress.
Wiggly tried to look serious as he made his apology, but the sparkle in his eyes
gave away his utter enjoyment of the situation, and pride in a job well done. While
Creampuff dried Jiggly's tears, Sugarberry gingerly swung her hooves to the floor and
assisted Wiggly in reconstructing the tent. She tentatively picked up each blanket and
cautiously scrutinized every wrinkle, still on edge over the snake scare.
Jiggly, however, could not be induced to return to the "snakepit", as she worriedly
called it, and joined Winkie and Blinkie in the bed. Amazingly, the two tired baby ponies
had slept through the entire incident. Skunky cautiously emerged from under the bed
where he had sought refuge when life had gotten out of hand; now, as things returned to
normal, he reappeared and sat watching Sugarberry and Wiggly rebuilding the castle with
a critical eye. As soon as they were finished and Wiggly settled down-- still smirking over
his sisters' "heebie-jeebies" as he referred to her panic-- Skunky crept back under
concealment and curled up in sublime creature comfort. Peace and quiet finally
Angela, always the serious one, hovered near Creampuff as her bedtime now drew
near. As her mom was tucking her into the makeshift bed on the floor, Angela confessed
her fear. "Will it ever stop raining, Mommy?"
Creampuff hugged her sensitive daughter close to her heart and asked, "Remember
the story of Noah?"
"Yes," responded Angela. "That's why I'm frightened."
"But you must remember the rainbow," reminded Creampuff. "It is a sign of
God's promise. The rain will end, and the sunshine will smile down on us again."
Thinking this over, Angela finally broke into a bright smile. "Yes. Soon we will
have sunshine again." The plunking raindrops did not subdue her newfound confidence as
she snuggled into her blankets and closed her eyes, immediately drifting into a deep and
Sugarberry, too, crawled into her substitute bed as Creampuff rinsed diapers and
saw to all the details of life that mothers accomplish in a busy day.
"Goodnight, Creampuff," she whispered across the room. "Sleep tight... literally!"
she added, referring to the bed with three ponies already sound asleep.
"Thanks to you and Buck and Vanguard, we are warm and dry. Yes, I'll sleep just
fine," murmured Creampuff. "And with any luck, Jingle will be home tomorrow." She
"Remember the rainbow," Sugarberry quoted as she gratefully settled under the
covers and closed her eyes to a dream world filled with water and snakes and birdsong...
* * *
Nothing broke through Sugarberry's slumber until morning dawned. She laid
quietly, listening to little tapping sounds reminiscent of rain drops; as she became fully
conscious, she realized the sounds came from the children who were already up and
playing a board game, moving their markers in a steady beat. Sugarberry's ears strained
to hear the rain; but, surprisingly, there was no dropping from the windows. She stood up
and peered out on a soggy landscape; the sky was gray and overcast, but no new moisture
"Good morning, Sugarberry!" the five foals chorused as they joined her at the
"That rain stopped!" Angela beamed. "And Daddy's coming home
Creampuff entered the room. "I checked on breakfast, and Audrey and Lilac have
outdone themselves to celebrate the end of the deluge!"
The children squealed in excitement. "Is everyone washed-up and ready to eat?"
she asked. Five little hooves shot-up in acknowledgment. "Okay, off we go!"
"I'll be down soon," Sugarberry grinned. "I was the sleepyhead in the
As the door closed, Sugarberry proceeded with her morning routine; she became
fully alert only after her shower. Finishing in the bathroom, she surveyed the bedroom
with a critical eye. Life as a family was messier than life alone, she concluded. Blankets
lay in tumbled disarray, game pieces cluttered the table, crayons and puzzle pieces littered
the floor, the bed was unmade, and pillows appeared to be everywhere. "Obviously, I
slept through this pillow fight," she grimaced. Her elegant Victorian asylum had been
reduced to a nursery, and she felt a wave of resentment sweep over her. But the memory
of Blinkie's voice saying, "Me wuv you, Sugarberry" melted her displeasure; she hurried
to join her friends downstairs.
Being the last to arrive, Sugarberry slid into the empty chair between Popcorn and
Angela. Lilac scurried from the kitchen with a plate of scrambled eggs, sausage, and
hashbrowns which she placed in front of Sugarberry. "Wiggly tells us you had a little
problem with snakes last night! This wet weather does tend to bring them out."
Blushing furiously, Sugarberry admitted her phobia. "The only thing worse than
snakes are worms." After a pause, she added, "Or maybe spiders." She grinned
sheepishly. "But there is this one tarantula I know that is really cute."
Merry Moments shuddered. "Spiders are the worst! And mice paralyze me with
"Cats! Cat make me feel creepy, like they can read my mind," admitted
"Oh, no," intervened Angela. "Care are wonderful. You will have to meet
Skunky. Everyone loves Skunky."
Now it was Popcorn's turn to shudder. "Do you mean to tell me that there is a cat
in this house?"
Audrey showed no mercy. "And a good thing, too. Maybe it will force you to
face your fear!"
Sympathizing with Popcorn over an uncontrollable phobia, Sugarberry changed the
subject. "If the rain has stopped, how long will it take for things to get back to
"The water will recede quickly enough," explained Lilac, "but it will take longer to
dry out the soil... and to clean up the homes." She patted Creampuff compassionately.
"The neighbors will pitch in to help," she said encouragingly as Creampuff's face fell at the
realization of how much work it would take to get the house livable again.
Merry Moments tried to bring the group back to a cheerful note. "With the rain
ended, we can go out exploring today. Who's with me?"
"Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!" called out the five foals, already suffering from
"Me, too," added Sugarberry eagerly.
"Count me in!" Vanguard rounded out the venture.
Anxious now to finish breakfast, the children gulped their food; Sugarberry
finished off her orange juice and sorrowfully turned down a cup of hot coffee. It
wasn't meant to be, she thought philosophically.
Out in the open air, Sugarberry's spirits were revived. The sky was cloudy and the
air was still; the ground was spongy. But there was no rain falling on them, which was a
big improvement over yesterday. The foals went running and jumping and squealing in
Merry Moments laughed. "Oh, to be a foal again!"
"Maybe. Maybe not," countered Vanguard. "There are some fairly rocky years
involved in growing up."
"You got a point there," agreed Sugarberry.
"Let's visit the barn," suggested Angela shyly. "I like animals."
So they all moved off in the direction of the white barn. Vanguard enlightened the
rest of the crew. "Buck told me his dad wanted a typical red barn; but Lilac thought it
would clash with the colors of the house, so he had to go with white."
"It would look good in any color," said Sugarberry as she studied the shingled
Dutch gambrel roof; two windowed dormers on each side gave the structure a
comfortable appearance. "Something in the depths of my being feels at home around a
barn," she said in retrospect.
Jiggly and Wiggly ran through the barn door, only to collide with a young stallion
who was in the process of carting hay bales to the black and white cows pastured behind
the barn. "Whoa!" he cheerily called to the twins. "You two okay?" He reached down
and pulled both youngsters to their feet. Merry Moments helped brush hay out of the
twins' manes and tails.
Always to the point, Wiggly asked bluntly of the stallion, "Who are you?"
"My name's Trample," the stallion responded.
"What are you doing here?" Wiggly persisted.
Trample grinned. "Well, Birdsong is my home. I help my parents with the work
around here." He tousled Wiggly's mane, and reached out to take Jiggly's hoof. "Come
with me and I'll show you the critters."
In a pen in the corner were several calves; Buck and yet another stallion were
feeding them with large-sized baby bottles. Winkie and Blinkie laughed in delight.
"You all have met Buck, I've heard. He's my brother. But I'm cuter!" He
winked at Blinkie knowingly. "That ebony stallion is also my brother; his name is
Licorice. But I'm sure you don't care about that; you want to see these calves, don't
Sugarberry made a mental note to enlighten Chocolate Chip about this self-assured
stallion who suffered no regrets about his non-pastel colored coat.
Lifting first Winkie and then Blinkie over the side of the pen, he had Licorice give
them the bottle to feed the hungry calf. Between the two of them, they managed to hold
the bottle high enough for the calf to suckle. She finished it off, and when no more milk
was left, proceeded to lick the faces of the two enraptured foals.
"That tickles!" squealed Blinkie. Winkie collapsed in a fit of giggles.
Buck then let Jiggly, Wiggly, and Angela have a hand at bottle-feeding the other
calves. In the meantime Winkie had literally stumbled across a mother barn cat nursing
her tiny kittens. He plopped down into the hay next to them, and watched wide-eyed as
the mother licked each kitten clean. Everyone gathered around to admire the family of
felines; the cat purred proudly as the kittens fell asleep against her warm body.
Blinkie had wandered off towards the dark back corner of the barn; heads turned
as they head his voice ask, "Skunky, you not ‘sposed to be out of house."
Sugarberry was just beginning to say that she was sure Skunky had been asleep on
the bed when she left the room when Vanguard quickly but quietly intercepted Blinkie as
he headed to his pet, and hoisted him up and away from the black and white cat.
"That's no cat!" he explained to his bewildered companions. "That's a real
As the animal moved out into the daylight, everyone gasped. It was a skunk, his
pointy nose smelling the air, and his bushy tail waving like a banner in the breeze.
"No one move," commanded Buck in a calm voice. "Just let him pass."
Sugarberry was amazed at the sight they beheld. "I don't think it's a ‘him'," she
Following behind the skunk like train cars behind the engine came five baby
skunks, each mimicking its mother's walk and posture in miniature. The parade passed
the spellbound ponies and continued out the door. No one said a word for a time, caught
up in the magic of the moment. Finally, Angela voiced the consensus of all involved:
"Skunks are beautiful!"
Licorice went on to explain that a sudden fright would have caused the mother
skunk to spray a horrid-smelling liquid and that's why it was important for everyone to
stay quiet so she didn't feel threatened.
"You foals did a great job at staying calm," congratulated Trample. "Now, let's
see the rest of the animals."
The remainder of the morning sped swiftly by as the ponies became acquainted
with all the resident fauna of the farm. The little ponies had accumulated a layer of mud
on their bodies as the puddles had proved irresistible. By the time they had gotten
cleaned-up, it was lunchtime.
The talk around the table was lively. Winkie and Blinkie told about the skunk;
Jiggly and Wiggly's highlight had been feeding the calf; Angela had become captivated
with a newborn lamb, all soft and fleecy; Creampuff had heard from Jingle, and he was
definitely getting home today-- the foals were excited to hear that good news.
Many hooves made light work of the dirty dishes and kitchen work while the baby
ponies napped and the older foals sat quietly reading. From the kitchen window,
Sugarberry could at least do some birding-- pigeons who lived in the barn were splashing
in puddles that littered the grounds like temporary ponds. Goldfinches hung from the
feeder suspended from a lattice covered in morning glories. A wren could be heard
singing her cheerful song. Sugarberry felt content. Her stay at Birdsong would end
tomorrow, but she had made many new friends.
By the time the last dish had been dried and put away, Angela, Wiggly, and Jiggly
appeared in the kitchen. "Can we go outside again, Mother?"
As Creampuff had volunteered to bake rhubarb pies for supper, and Merry
Moments and Vanguard were helping Popcorn and Audrey move ponies back to their
homes, Sugarberry was left to accompany the children.
"Let's walk to the gazebo and see how many different kinds of birds we can
identify," she suggested.
The sky was still dreary. "Where is the sunshine?' Angela complained. "I'm tired
of cloudy skies."
"Maybe it will rain and rain again until our house washes away," suggested
Angela and Jiggly moved close to Sugarberry, sobered by the thought of more
rain. Sugarberry searched the ocean of gray and black clouds overhead, hoping to find
some hint of relief in a patch of blue sky, but nothing optimistic presented itself in the
expanse visible between the leafy branches of the trees.
Fortunately some bright flashes of blue took the foals' minds off their worries.
Indigo buntings darted over their heads, signaling the blue sky they were so anxious to
see. As they walked further, they saw catbirds, bluejays, and cardinals going about their
busy days. By the time they'd reached the gazebo, they had accumulated an impressive
list of birds.
Wiggly slipped off his backpack containing apple juice and peanut butter cookies
and the three little ponies went off to climb trees, smell the flowers, and find the hidden
joys of nature. Sugarberry sat on a wooden bench in the gazebo, and soaked up the music
of the birds singing, accented now and then by the voices of the foals. It was a perfect
moment. "If only the sun would shine," mused Sugarberry. She closed her eyes and let
the sounds lull her into a dozy state of mind.
Sugarberry lounged in this semi-conscious state for some time, always aware of
the sounds around her yet totally relaxed, when a new sound joined the medley. A
staccato plunk came slowly at first, and only added to the beauty of the music. But the
plunking gradually picked up its pace, and Sugarberry opened her eyes, realizing that the
birds had stopped their part in the song. The plunking was hard and heavy now as the
children charged out of the cover of the trees and came screaming and running to the
gazebo amidst the onslaught of the hailstones that battered down from the dark clouds.
They huddled together under the gazebo watching this new expression of nature's
"It's too hot for ice. What makes these lumps of ice, Sugarberry?" questioned
"The air is colder up in the clouds, so the rain freezes and accumulates into these
little iceballs. They can get much bigger than this." Wiggly and Jiggly scampered out of
the shelter to collect the short-lived marble-sized novelties.
It wasn't long before the hailstones converted over to rain, and a brisk shower
covered the saturated area again. But it was brief, and to the amazement of the ponies, it
was followed by a breaking of the clouds; and a glorious rainbow arched above the
treetops. While Wiggly and Jiggly squealed in delight, Angela clapped her hooves
together. "The rain is over; the rain is over," she prayerfully intoned.
They celebrated the moment by devouring cookies and juice amidst a virtual
outburst of birdsong as the feathered creatures also rejoiced in the sunshine now
By the time the lighthearted crew returned to Birdsong, the sky was one brilliant
canopy of blue. Birdsong itself was alive with activity: Winkie and Blinkie were swinging
on the swingset; most of the adults were having ice tea under the maple tree in the front
lawn; Buck, Licorice, Trample, and Merry Moments were engaged in some softball
practice, and Creampuff sat on the front porch with a golden stallion Sugarberry had never
Wiggly, Jiggly, and Angela broke out calling, "Daddy! Daddy!" and rushed to the
porch where the golden stallion met them on the front steps and caught all three foals in a
wide embrace. Winkie and Blinkie left the swings to get caught up in this second reunion
with their father and the rest of his offspring.
Vanguard met Sugarberry with a glass of ice tea. "It's not coffee," he grinned,
"but it's the only drink available."
Sugarberry politely accepted the cold glass although she detested the stuff. "It
turned out to be a beautiful day," she stated the obvious. "And it appears that Jingle got
back." Their gaze returned to the porch scene as the restored family shared tales of the
past few days spent apart.
"Heart-warming picture straight out of a story book, isn't it?" asked
"Yes," agreed Sugarberry, quickly wiping a sentimental tear from the corner of her
eye as Lilac approached.
"Excuse me, Van, but I've got to talk to Sugarberry a moment. She led
Sugarberry to a private spot by the rose bed. "The tea roses survived the rain nicely," she
commented as she bent to pull some weeds that had made the most of the rainy days.
Sugarberry leaned over to pull a weed, too, and took advantage of the opportunity to
dump her ice tea at the base of the rose bush. "Tea roses should like tea," she muttered to
Lilac seemed to be finding it difficult to say whatever it was she had to say, so the
two pulled weeds for a minute or two before Lilac cleared her throat and began-- "Your
stay with us will be ending tomorrow, Sugarberry."
"And I'll miss Birdsong, even if things didn't work out as I planned," reflected
"With Jingle back, he and the family will be anxious to get home."
Sugarberry's mind jumped ahead as she thought, I'll have the privacy of my
tower room all to myself on my last night here, when Lilac's words cut
"...several weeks to clean up the house decently, so if you wouldn't mind moving
into Merry Moment's room for tonight, Creampuff can keep her family together in your
Sugarberry looked down at the delicate roses and reached to caress one of the
blooms, only to be scratched by a thorn. She pulled her hoof back quickly. "No
problem," she smiled weakly at Lilac while she rubbed the scratch on her foreleg.
Merry Moments was coming across the lawn, so Sugarberry intercepted her.
"Mighty mean fast ball you throw," Sugarberry tried using some of the lingo Quarterback
used when talking about softball.
Merry Moments giggled. "I don't do too badly. At least I impressed Buck
enough that he invited me to a game tonight."
"Speaking of tonight," Sugarberry frowned, "did Lilac speak to you about the
"Yes, she did. The ponies who had been with me were able to go home. Do you
want to move your things in now?"
Sugarberry went up to her room; Creampuff had cleaned and straightened the
disarray of the morning, so it looked cool and inviting. She headed to the windowseat and
sunk onto the soft pillows and rested her head against the windowpane. A breeze softly
caressed her face, and a lone robin serenaded her from the branches of the willow tree.
She drank in the views from the window and stored away memories to feed on in the
future. Then, with a resolute shake of her head, she got up and began packing her
suitcase. Before long, she stood at the door for one final look, and walked down the hall
to Merry Moments' room.
"Come on it!" Merry Moments called.
Sugarberry set her suitcase on a chair just as the bell rang for the evening meal, so
she and Merry Moments hurried down to eat.
Jingle's homecoming leant a festive atmosphere to the tenants of Birdsong, and the
meal and clean-up lasted late into the evening. Merry Moments had gone off to the ball
game with Buck and his brothers, Trendy took Popcorn and Vanguard to see his
arrowhead collection, and Sugarberry took advantage of the distraction to retire to her
room. She recorded her activities and thoughts of the day, and realized that she was
homesick for Dream Valley and all her friends back home. She wondered if Fluff was
missing her as much as she missed him. Looking at the clock, she realized that Tabby and
Chocolate Chip and Tiffany were probably at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe this very
minute. Well, by tomorrow evening, she'd be with them again. She'd be home. At the
present, she just felt like a misplaced pony. Crawling into bed, she looked forward to her
departure in the morning.
The song of the robin was Sugarberry's wake-up call; she woke slowly, but once it
hit her that today was the day, she opened her eyes and jumped out of bed to a glorious
sunshiny day. Merry Moments was still asleep, so Sugarberry had access to the shower,
and leisurely prepared for her journey home. She was scheduled to leave right after
breakfast; Buck would accompany her to the airport.
The snapping of the suitcase latches awakened Merry Moments and she was soon
out of bed and ready for breakfast, too. Sugarberry set her suitcase by the door, and she
and Merry Moments descended the stairs together to breakfast. A jumble of voices from
the breakfast room told the girls that everyone was up early this fine morning.
A buffet of delectable dishes assured Sugarberry that she wouldn't leave Birdsong
hungry. After feasting on pancakes and hot coffee, she nibbled from a frosted dish heaped
with strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, bananas, and cantaloupe.