The heroine in one of my upcoming romances (MANHUNTER -- Silhouette Romantic Suspense) is a tracker who lives in the northern Yukon, and for research I’m devouring books on tracking and signs.
Now, when out on my daily runs or Nordic walks, you will find me looking downward, at the ground, watching for cougar, or bear prints. Trying to identify squirrel or chipmunk tracks in the soft mud. Finding evidence of feeding sites, dens, holes. The whole forest is coming alive to me in new ways, telling me stories as I grapple with the crude A, B, Cs of a new language. My heroine’s language.
And because I was head-down, scrutinizing foliage and soil, I came across a big old sun-bleached bone. I slowly turned it over in my hand, wondering what animal it came from, what death the creature had met. Why it was there. The novelist in me even flirted with the idea it might – conceivably -- be human. I got to thinking of the names of all the people who had gone missing in these woods over the last few years. Just vanished. Searched for, and never found. Like Amy Tam, 33, last seen by her mother July 13, 1996. Never to be seen again. Yet another unsolved mystery of these mountains.
I placed the bone on a stump so that I might find it again. Just in case.
I went back two days ago to see if the bone was still there, and found another not far from the first, this one most decidedly 'un-human'. I’m thinking maybe they are parts of a buck, and there is probably a whole skeleton scattered in bits around the area. Anyone have any idea what these bones might belong to? (pardon the slug that crawled into the photo)
And in the synchronicity that seems to be a part of my life at the moment, just as I was thinking of missing Amy Tam (I was among the media who covered her disappearance back then), the BC Coroners Service announced it has identified the partial human remains found by a hiker on Alpine Way as belonging to Amy Tam. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Her bones show up in a Whistler residential area 11 years after she went missing, not far from where her car was found abandoned with keys on the seat and the door open, and we still have no further clue as to what really happened to Amy, nor any idea why 40 search and rescue members, RCMP, police dogs and air patrols scoured the area for the missing School District Psychologist for two weeks and came up empty handed ... if she was right there.
It bothers me that no one knows her story. That her remains cannot tell it. That she was all alone that day. That she has family out there who still need answers.
And … so novels are born.