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Fire is a source of renewal in the scrub oak chaparral of southern California. In autumn the Santa Ana winds blow from the desert and dry the already parched ground, turning every blade and twig to tinder. Late in October 2003 a lost hunter’s signal fire spawned the largest wildfire in California history. San Diego residents stood by helplessly as the Cedar Fire raged out of control for nine days, burning 280,278 acres, destroying 2,820 buildings, including 2,232 homes, and killing 15 people before it was contained. Television news coverage was constant as we waited for an evacuation notice and viewed the advance of the firestorm. Some people were given only ten minutes to gather their belongings and leave. One woman’s story in particular broke my heart. The fire tore through her home and ruined all of her papers, journals, notebooks, and the works in progress on her computer. This could have been me.
The fire came within two and a half miles of our home, but luckily we didn’t need to evacuate. After the danger passed, I had a renewed fervor to archive my haiku offsite. As I organized several hundred of my published haiku it was like reuniting with old friends. The Horse with One Blue Eye came together in the weeks and months following that wildfire.
—Cherie Hunter Day