I suppose I’ll be asked to prove to someone that I haven’t “lost it” in my old age, but I really don’t mean that title in the way it sounds. I simply like the name: Badger’s Drift. It’s the kind of thing that has always interested me. Words, names, places that appear to paint a brief picture in themselves, and strike a chord in the ear and the head when we hear them. Like “Land’s End”. Both the place and the Corporate name create an instant picture when you hear them, and it stays forever linked to the geographic locale and the Clothing Brand every time it is repeated.
Well, “Badger’s Drift” does that for me. It was the creation of Caroline Graham, who wrote the mystery series about a fictitious county in England called Midsomer (itself a fascinating play on the expected: Mid-Summer). The badger, of course, is quite a common if reclusive creature in England, though not found in NW Pennsylvania, where I live. A “drift” is a common term in England for a slower-moving section of a stream, usually meaning the surface area of the water over a deeper portion of the stream or river. It is where fly fishermen often cast their flies to let them “drift” over the deep pools to lure the fish. And author Graham put the two together to create Badger’s Drift, the fictional community in which more than one of her mysteries take place. I invariably picture a rather ill-mannered, furry creature sitting on the bank of a stream, ready to attack any unsuspecting human who wanders into his territory.
I once had occasion to travel through a real life town called East Fallowfield, in Pennsylvania. It was a small but normal-looking place, which belied the somewhat dismal sounding “Fallowfield”, which would suggest an unplanted, barren field of weeds and ruts waiting for a crop that will never materialize. Badger’s Drift, at least, has a kind of uncommon, almost adventurous appeal to it. But there is also the danger of confusing the appeal of the name with the settings of the stories: The novels have been adapted for television by the BBC, and are aired under the title “Midsomer Murders” . The settings are idyllic, with English manor houses, elaborate thatched-roof cottages, and quaint country inns aplenty.
I suppose the ultimate pictorial name would be J.K.Rowling’s “Hogwarts School” for budding young sorcerers. But saying I came from Hogwarts would simply sound silly, where “I live in Badger’s Drift” sounds bizzare yet plausible enough to actually be true. My own home town of Erie, Pa. may remotely suggest to some a connection with the Great Lake of the same name (which of course it has), but just think of how much better it would sound if we changed the name to Erie Canal, Pa. That immediately provides a boost from the ordinary to the vaguely romantic and adventurous days of the bustling canal traffic. True, the canal never actually passed through Erie, but it came very close, and could lend a tug at the ear and a distant memory of something special.
Well, perhaps not(sigh). But I still wish I lived in Badger’s Drift. Now that’s a name.