On an early Saturday in spring, when dreams explode into reality, Dr. Sandy Price tiptoed about her home on Stolen Hours Farm. She was gathering up research for the trip she’d planned ever since she was a ponytailed youngster in the sixth grade. That was the year she first read a book called Misty of Chincoteague, and the year one of her lifelong dreams had begun.
Sandy piled the breakfast nook table with a rainbow of color. The kitchen calendar topped the display, with a lively parade of ponies, wild and tame. Three glasses of freshly poured orange juice paled by comparison.
Thrilled with her production, Sandy stood back a
moment to admire it. She was interrupted by two sleepy-eyed children who came yawning into the room. Sandy announced the electrifying news: “All aboard for Chincoteague! What a glamorous way to spend your birthdays!” She picked up the calendar and with a dramatic flourish tore off April, May, and June and pointed to the last week in July. Chris and Pam stared.
Pam whispered, “Mom’s flipped.” But nothing could stop Sandy now. She circled the last week of July in red ink and called out:
“July 23 - Two birthdays and Departure Day, northward bound from Ocala, Florida, to Chincoteague, Virginia.
July 24 - Still heading north.
July 25 - Arrive Chincoteague Island.
July 26 - Scouting neighboring Assateague for wild ponies.
July 27 - The roundup and the swim across the channel.
July 28 - The auction.”
Both children studied their mother as if she were a teacher dictating weeks of assignments. “Why, that’s the middle of summer!” Chris said.
Sandy was deaf to the tone of his voice. She translated it as “That’s so far away I can hardly wait.”
“That’s it,” Pam said with a shrug of impatience. “It’s done! July twenty-third—our birthday, Mom’s D-Day.”
The children shoved their chairs into place, gulped their orange juice, ate their cereal in silence, and bolted out-of-doors.