A Cold War at Christmas

A Cold War at Christmas

I hold Josephus by the hand and squint into the wind.

Our view is good, but Herod’s was better. I sit with students on the stump of a tower (or “keep”) estimated to have been 120 feet tall. Herod could climb the stairs of this structure (now tumbled downslope) and scan the horizon from a lofty perch. Looking north along the Judean backbone, he could pick out the Mount of Olives. It cast a shadow over Jerusalem every morning. Looking south, he could see, or almost feel, really, the opening up of a vast desert. 

Hot Camel Flies

It is hot. The breeze blowing across the Mesopotamian plain carries no refreshment, only dust.

I do what comes naturally in this part of the world: I recline in the shade of a goat-hair tent and sip hot çay. The tea is served in a tulip glass lacking a handle, so I sip carefully but quickly. I hang on the rim to avoid burning my fingers. My companions do the same. The glasses dance.