The Italians had the idea first. “Going to the mattresses” meant finding a safe place to hide out in time of battle. The Italian Mafia used the term to refer to consolidating forces in fortified hideouts, hauling in mattresses for a long siege. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,213669,00.html
Special Note to NSA monitors: This blog is about a dog, a big red Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever mix. Can’t say she has never plotted anything—she has a plan to stalk and capture the groundhog that lives along one road where we walk, and an ongoing plan to beat up Casey, the Boston bull terrier across the street. But you already know all this, don’t you?
Greta hasn’t shown much interest in the origin of the mattresses phrase. But she gets the concept. Her version: “Going to the cave.”
The cave is an indoor facility. I’m guessing that anyone who ever lived in a nature-formed cave would prefer one like Greta’s, with heating, air-conditioning, hot and cold running water. The cave is the best hideout in the house. It is about 8 feet long and no more than about 4 1/2 feet wide at its widest point. No windows. A skylight and rows of translucent glass provide the only natural light. The tile floor is cool in summer.
Greta has spent much of her time in the cave during the month of June. We were cursed with nearly eight inches of rain last month, more than double the average precipitation for the month. Much of the rain arrived blown in by strong winds, lit by lightning flashes and drum-rolled by thunder. The thunderstorms became daily events. In their wake, the ground became wet and soft and smelly. The air began to smell of mold and mildew. The dehumidifier ran and ran, and still could not keep up with humidity that never dropped out of the hygrometer’s black zone. The black zone is not good.
If Arizona, Colorado, or any other drought area would like some of our extra rain, come take it. Please.
Odors, Greta doesn’t mind. This is an animal who, like all other dogs, spends a lot of time sniffing butts, dead animals, other dogs’ droppings. But thunder? Greta doesn’t have to go to zombie movies to be scared. She feels real fear when thunder invades her world.
During a thunderstorm, a frightened dog can find shelter and safety in the cave. The noise is not as loud than it is in other parts of the house. Greta can stretch out on the floor and wait for the storm to go by. She will not sleep, because it is important to stay alert when threatened by loud intermittent sounds. It’s like being at a rock concert and not knowing exactly when they’re going to turn up the amps full blast.
Greta often stops by her food dish on the way to the cave, because you never know. If the storm doesn’t move on as hoped, she could have to spend hours hunkering down.
Other good reasons to go to the cave: fireworks, heat and humidity.
Greta doesn’t mind the rocket’s red glare, but if she had been on board a British ship during the bombardment of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key wouldn’t have had time to write anything beyond, “Oh, say. ..” When the bombs started bursting in air, he would have had a terrified 70-pound dog dragging him around the ship looking for a cave hideout.
Heat and humidity. The cave stays fairly cool when the combination of heat and humidity turn the house into a steam room. Greta knows what to do: spread as much of your furry body over the tile as you can, and let the coolness seep into your skin. No mattresses, thanks. And park the weapons at the door, please. Guns make loud noises.