“They Battened Down the Hatches, But The Hatches Didn’t Hold”


The majority of this week I’ve been out of town. I returned home late Thursday afternoon. For the past two consecutive nights, I’ve been home alone. The General is in Odessa visiting her mother. Consequently, I am home by myself. Overall the experience has seemed very surreal. The house feels both large and extremely quiet. In almost a nomadic pursuit, Thursday evening I moved from one room to the next, only to sit briefly and then either retrace my steps or walk into another room. Before the evening was over, I had been throughout the house at least three times.

I even opted to go outdoors and spend time in the hot tub. Due to the cloud cover, the sky was totally dark. The water temperature was 105 degrees. It felt great. Strangely, I was more relaxed and comfortable in the hot tub by myself than I was being alone inside the house. For one thing, the General doesn’t like being submerged in water that hot. Consequently, in the two plus years we’ve had the hot tub, she’s only been in it briefly a couple of times.

Consequently, being alone in the hot tub is the norm for me. It didn’t feel awkward. In addition, think of the symbolism. I am generally in hot water about something with any number of people. On second thought, I’m not sure that assertion has a ring of truth associated to it, but I’m letting it stand. I like the symbolism. At some level, it may contain more truth than I want to admit. That is another good reason to let it stand.

Outdoors, late at night, with the sound of rushing water, the hot tub is a great place to relax. It is ideally suited as an outdoor sanctuary where the stress and demands of the day simply disappear from one’s thought processes. It obviously worked it’s magic, because I didn’t awaken the next morning until the alarm sounded at 5:00 a.m.

Going to bed Thursday night seemed awkward. For one thing, when I turned off the light, it was pitch black in the room. I immediately turned the light back on. That wasn’t going to work. Please hear me say, “I’m not afraid of the dark, but I do have a track record walking into walls, furniture and doors when I can’t see where I’m going”. Why take the chance? I needed a night light. I found one before I turned the overhead lights off again.

Since I’m sharing my thoughts, why not be totally honest? I’m so used to staying in hotel rooms where there is a safety lock and a protective device to keep the door from opening, that it felt a little uncanny not having that extra shield of protection. I thought about the General. She is often home alone. I’ll say it tongue-in-cheek, but it is probably true, “The General may even prefer it that way”! On second thought, probably not! The General’s need to provide structure, supervision and oversight to me would trump any satisfaction of being home alone.

As I thought about how awkward it felt being home alone, I wondered if Treva ever has those thoughts? Instead of leaving our bedroom door open, I opted to close it. Maybe that is closely akin to “batten down the hatches”, but it gave me a sense (perhaps false sense) of security.

I’m not sure I’ve ever used the expression, “Batten down the hatches.” For that matter, I’m not sure I’d accurately define the term “hatch” if you asked. I’m assuming it is an opening to the deck of a ship. Certainly, one can understand the need for doors to be securely fastened in wake of inclement weather.

Do you remember the line from Bob Dylan’s song, “Tempest”? “They battened down the hatches, But the hatches wouldn’t hold…”

“ ‘Hatch’ is one of those words with dozens of meanings in the dictionary. In this case we are looking at the ‘opening in the deck of a ship’ meaning. Ships’ hatches, more formally called hatchways, were commonplace on sailing ships and were normally either open or covered with a wooden grating to allow for ventilation of the lower decks. When bad weather was imminent, the hatches were covered with tarpaulin and the covering was edged with wooden strips, known as battens, to prevent it from blowing off. Not surprisingly, sailors called this ‘battening down’.”

I haven’t yet looked at the morning news, however, I went to bed last night with thoughts and prayers for those in harms way from Hurricane Patricia. “Battening down” certainly is a concept very much on the minds of many. There is no prudent substitute for being precautionary and proactive in seeking shelter and safety when a monster of that magnitude is unleashed.

According to last night’s weather reports, the worst hurricane in history to hit land will also be a catalyst for heavy rain and flooding across Texas. I suggested to the General that she not drive back from Odessa until the rain has stopped. Why take unnecessary chances?

In the interim, I’ll sleep with a nightlight. I’m still not afraid of the dark, but I do have a history of walking into things when I cannot see.

All My Best,


2 thoughts on ““They Battened Down the Hatches, But The Hatches Didn’t Hold””

  1. Oh Don, since I started following your blog I’ve realized that I’m not the only fellow up at 4:00 to 5:00am every morning! After our first meeting months ago, I detected that you had a great sense of humor and sure enough I suspect you have been beaten about the head and ears by the “General” on numerous occasions!! Forgive me Treva, but keep up the good work!! LOL…… 🙂 GT


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