As I mentioned yesterday, and as you already know unless you are reading this from a cave in Outer Mongolia, we here in the DC area are getting ready for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy*. Our television and radio stations are urging us to stock up on water, canned food, batteries (good luck finding a D-cell battery east of the Ohio line), and first aid supplies, and to fill up our cars with gas. One exhortation you hear over and over is to batten down the hatches.
Now what, exactly, does that mean?
My semi-dormant linguistics gland started secreting over that one and I did a bit of research which revealed the following ...
To batten down the hatches is, as you might suspect, a nautical expression. It refers to an action taken by the crew of a ship getting ready to sail into foul weather, in which they close and lock the ship's hatches, cover them with tarpaulins, and secure the tarpaulins in place with battens - wooden strips which were nailed down along the edges of the tarpaulins to keep them from blowing loose in the storm ... hence, battening. By extension, it implies getting ready for trouble by securing important things. Should you be interested in other common sayings that have a nautical origin, you can go here for an interesting list.
And so, Dear Readers, if you thought battening meant getting ready to step up to the plate in a baseball game or, if you are a witch, gathering night-flying creatures from local caves and belfries, you were mistaken.
The brunt of Hurricane Sandy is supposed to hit here late Monday afternoon through Tuesday (read all about it), and one of its major impacts is likely to be widespread loss of power ... so if you don't find this blog being updated for a few days (possibly as long as a few weeks, if you accept the worst-case scenarios), hang in there ... I'll be back.
And in the meantime, you can listen to Peter, Paul, and Mary ... who sound a lot better than Bob Dylan ...
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow, before Sandy gets here.
* Probably not related to the Sandy on whom I had a major crush in grade school.