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Bookstories 6: Cherie Hunter Day’s The Horse with One Blue Eye

libraryofbabelEvery book tells its story, but what of the other story, the story behind the book? Bookstories offers an opportunity to tell that story. If you have a story about a book or poem you would like to share, contact us and we’ll help you make it happen. Thanks for letting us know the rest of the story!

 

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

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Cherie, I do know what you’re talking about. The latter part of my childhood was spent in the East Gippsland town of Cann River, a timber town which every Winter was cut off from the world by flood and every Summer by bushfire ( the equivalent of your wildfire) This was a town Jan Bostok married into (her husband, Silvester, from Romania, was the foreman of one of the mills but Jan escaped that ‘Deliverance’ country asap, and lured Silvester up North where her parents subsidized them in a fruit farm, 🙂 I learnt , in Cann River, the value of community, as community was absolutely essential for survival, for everyone, twice a year. Jan actually wrote to me that the last place she expected anyone writing haiku would come from was Cann River. 🙂 …but in saying that, she forget that she herself began writing there, though not haiku. 🙂

    O, yes, fire is a source of renewal for eucalypt forests, too, and our native peoples were well aware of this and practised controlled burning, but an out of control bushfire/ wildfire is a terror that threatens all rural areas of Australia annually. Anyone can google the ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires of 2009 in Victoria. So many people, and animals, died. Most recently the bushfires have hit South Australia & we are yet only into the first month of this Summer.

    I have your book, ‘The Horse With One Blue Eye’, Cherie, and value it. I appreciate your haiku work immensely.

    – Lorin

    1. Hi Lorin,

      Thanks for your reply and your encouraging words. Interesting story about Jan–adversity molds us in unexpected ways. Where I grew up in Maine, we used two wood stoves as our heating source. I grew up associating the smell of woodsmoke as comforting. Now when I smell woodsmoke, it’s no longer comforting, it’s a danger signal. I must remain alert, ready to run. Part of my animal brain has been activated. I can’t unlearn that instinct.

      Stay safe, Lorin.

  2. Such an interesting “backstory”, thanks Cherie. Sometimes it takes a shock to push us into doing something we know we should have been doing already! And the haiku world got a great book out it.

    All the best,
    Sandra

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