Whenever I walk Dog along the local shoreline it’s easy to think of all the recent news stories about human feet being washed up on the beaches of local islands, wondering if such an item would end up under my eyes.
What occurs to me is that BC has a lot of relatively fast flowing rivers that dump everything west of the Rockies into the currents that flow along and between the coastal islands. Where the gap between landmasses is relatively narrow, stuff gets washed up in tidal estuaries, isolated shorelines and more commonly in increasingly populated areas.
One of the things you are also constantly reminded of is that BC is still mainly wild country. Less than 100 metres from where I sit typing this throwaway prose is completely unmanaged woodland. In parts of the province that’s all you’ve got for hundreds of miles. Trees and game trails without a trace of man’s influence. Most of the forest sloping hundreds, or in some cases thousands of feet down to the nearest creek or river. Raw creeks and unclimbed bluffs, which are at first sight a rock athletes wet dream. Did I mention that the Canadians are an outdoor people?
When mishaps occur this can be a place where help can be slow in arriving, if at all. In most of the province there is no mobile phone signal because there are no towns and suburbs to serve. Ergo, no phone masts, and in many deep valleys, even on the Trans Canada Highway, no radio coverage or reception. You screw up in the wrong place, and help may be a long time coming.
Every other month there are plane crashes where the victim’s bodies are never recovered, boating accidents that never get reported. Walking ‘off trail’ is very popular, and occasionally people get lost, are attacked by wild animals, or simply walk over a cliff and are killed. Flash floods or the deep chill of the Northern Winter claims others. Some commit suicide, and occasionally someone is murdered. Some die of natural causes. Their mortal remains often lying where they fell, and where the moods of wind and water send part of their bodies tumbling downstream. Down the rivers and into the sea where the natural process of decomposition reclaims the various chemicals of the organic soup that goes to make a human.
Body parts protected by slow to decompose artificial materials, such as sneakers etc, will float, buoyed up by their lighter than water components. Disarticulated by decomposition, they bob along the currents and tides, nibbled at by passing sea and river creatures, until they arrive on a beach, and if found by someone walking the shoreline, instantly become a tabloid headline.
There you have it, my personal theory about the body parts appearing on British Columbia’s beaches. No serial killers, no massacres, no drug lords with a bizarre fetish for tossing away the amputated feet of their executed rivals, (Well, perhaps not as many as the sensationalizing media would have us think) but simple human cock up, and the occasional hoax.
Update: Paragraphs 5, 6 & 7 corrected. I really should proof this stuff like a short story before hitting the 'publish' button. Apologies to anyone offended by my glaring grammatical errors. I have kicked myself.