The Strongest Word I Know


I was having lunch with a client shortly after moving to the village when Millbrook sprung up unexpectedly in our conversation. My client is one of the brightest minds in Canadian advertising, a master at marketing businesses, and had just created a new brand, “Millbrook” for a tactical defense company he was advising, the kind that evokes images of armies, tanks and missiles.

Millbrook?” I asked incredulously. At the time, his choice could not have seemed more inappropriate and I responded by doing what I do best: mocking.

“Did you even do any field research?” I chided. “Millbrook is the prettiest, most post-card perfect village you can imagine! It has a creek with brook trout, a mill and a dam and a pond full of geese. There are gorgeous old houses with elaborate gardens and quilt shops and a pastry counter and a lovely country school. And you picked Millbrook as the name for a tactical defense company?”

But he was undeterred by my teasing. “It’s the strongest word I know,” he said simply, then went back to chewing his steak.

I would be reminded of that conversation several times over the coming years. One day while playing, my son offered casually over his shoulder, “Millbrook isn’t a normal village, Mommy. It’s very …” My ears pricked up to listen as he searched for the right word from his growing vocabulary. “Protected,” he finished, then went back to stacking his blocks as if he hadn’t said anything at all.

As I became acquainted with Millbrook, I could not deny the palpable strength of its people and the support that they gave to their landmarks, their natural resources and their community.

I used to keep a deck of tarot cards – I didn’t know how to read them, but I admired their symbolism and beautiful artistry. Sometimes, if I was lacking in direction, I would pick one and see if it seemed to suggest anything to me.   I stopped not long after moving to Millbrook. The exercise had become redundant. I was always drawing the same card:   Strength.

Finally, my growing suspicions about Millbrook’s tenacity were confirmed last spring on a guided Earth Day expedition up Medd’s Mountain to learn about the Oak Ridges Moraine. It is thought that at the end of the last ice age, two massive ice sheets receded from east to west, leaving in the passage between them the glacial deposit that forms the rolling hills of the Moraine today. Our guides showed us a map of the Moraine and there sat Millbrook at its far northeast: the land’s last line of defense against one of these glacial giants, before it gave up, dropped its artillery and retreated sheepishly home. My untrained geologist’s eyes and active imagination had seen all they needed to see: Millbrook had held back a glacier.

I shared that interpretation with my client a little while ago and asked how he had known. He only smiled enigmatically.

Babble by Anita Odessa

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