The squad crosses the road. They are intent on the march, despite a lack of herd and shepherd. That some are speckled, spotted, or streaked makes me smile. After all, this is the village of Haran, the exilic home of Jacob the trickster (see his shenanigans in the text of Gen 30:25-43). It is a place where goats, sheep, and humans have co-existed for millennia.
I stand in a paved courtyard. Surrounding me is a cluster of dwellings constructed of mudbrick (or adobe). A discovery like this is not unusual in a region where wood is scarce and temperatures are extreme. What is odd is the way in which the overhead space is closed. Bricks are stacked in concentric circles that rise upwardly from thick stub walls. They culminate in a tiara made of stone that crowns a tiny chimney hole. I marvel. These are tepees of mud, sedentary versions of the pastoralist’s tent.
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.