Well, I talk out loud in my characters’ voices all day long as well, and recently, I had a great time inside the head of 11-year old Feddie Harper. He’s the “star” of my middle grade story Black Dog, White Dog, (writing as Anya Novikov) from the wonderful My Dog Does Magic anthology, and he’s got some summer reading to do. Boring. Then…he actually finds himself enjoying a book on California history, most of all, our native tribe, the Chumash.
So let me share the Legend of Hueneme today!
You’d never know it, but the word is pronounced “Wye-NEE-mee”
It’s actually the name of a beautiful Chumash princess…and the name of a peaceful, seaside Naval town on California’s central coast. The daughter of a great chief, Hueneme was not just lovely to behold but also kind, joyful and friendly. Everybody loved her. Birds would land on her finger and sing.
Many suitors longed to marry her, but she sent them away. At last she fell in love with a handsome visitor to her village. They were married, and their love story was legendary among the coastal tribes and those on the nearby islands.
But another woman wanted the husband and learned the black arts of witchcraft. She cast a spell upon Hueneme’s husband, and his love turned to hate. When he looked upon his wife, he saw not Hueneme but the witchy woman.
Indeed, the witch seduced him to leave with her to a faraway valley.
In grief, Hueneme returned to her home tribe. Her wise father told her to seek out her husband, for love cannot be destroyed by evil. She trusted her father, and searched for her man.
In a cursed valley of vile smells, Hueneme’s voice helped dispel the spell, and her husband followed her as she walked out of the miserable place. Partially unveiled by the curse, he realized he couldn’t live without her. However, the powerful curse hadn’t entirely departed from him.
In despair, Hueneme forgot her father’s words, that true love could not be killed by evil. Giving in to her hopelessness, she headed into the cold sea at today’s Mugu Rock. Filled with grief and regret, her husband followed her. And gods changed both of them to stones one can still see when the tide is just right.
Until missionaries came to the area, the Chumash Indians left bowls of food at Mugu Rock for Hueneme and her husband.
How about you? Are there any interesting legends or lore in your neighborhood?
Feddie Harper is still mourning the loss of his black Lab when a lovely white dog magically appears next to him at the local horse rescue. Although his mom allows the dog to come home with them–just temporarily, the entire family soon realizes the pup’s life-saving specialty!
P.s. Black Dog, White Dog, is a story for all ages!