Lots of people worked on this, and several regular readers (Mark, gnetiq, Fred, Ahniwa) all left good comments and leads. But nothing's worked out.
To tell you what I've been doing... I posted this problem on a few social answering sites (Yahoo Answers, Answerland) and on a listserv that's devoted to answering exactly this kind of problem--that is, identifying stories and books from the merest of clues. As it turns out, there's an entire community of librarians that face this problem every day--someone walks into the library and asks for "Poor and Wease" -- you have to know that what they meant is "War and Peace."
So I signed up for the Fiction_L listserv and posted my question there. (Side note: It's been really interesting to see the kinds of questions people ask librarians. "Can you find me novels set in Montana?" I recommend it as a source of ideas about how people think about their difficult search problems.)
SUSPENDED! But nothing has worked so far. So I'm going to declare this question SUSPENDED pending additional information or sudden discovery. If (when!) we finally figure this one out, I'll be sure to do an analysis of HOW we could have found it (assuming we could).
At this point, though, if I were a librarian, I'd be suspicious of the recollection. As we've discussed before, recall of movies / books / short stories is very error prone. It's not that individuals just have weak memories, it turns out we all recode what we experience, and then those recollections evolve over time. Memory for an incident (or book or ...) isn't fixed into memory like an etching into glass, but it's lightly written and subject to weathering--more like water colors on rice paper that's left in the sun and elements of subsequent experience.
|by Peter Pirolli|
Pete's work was informed by some great studies of hummingbird's feeding in Alpine environments, where they have to choose when to move to another patch of flowers. They move when the next search isn't likely to be successful.
That's the situation we're in at the moment: this information hummingbird needs to move onto the next food source, the next item on the dinner menu.
But we'll remember this, and come back if the flowers re-open.