Ein Gedi Botanic Garden

Ein Gedi Botanic Garden
Seek the serenity of a Judean Desert sky in Autumn at the Ein Gedi Botanic Garden

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Kid is Chased By a Goat

Friday nights after the Shabbat meal are my time to recharge the batteries and stock up on the sleep I have skimped on all week, and this time was no exception.

I had just snuggled down under the quilts with a glass of hot tea on the night table next to my bed. Eragon, the dragon-drenched fantasy novel written by a 15-year-old, waited for my attention.

And then I heard my dogs barking.

Not the "hello-how-are-you-hail-fellow-well-met" noise that greets every four-legged visitor who treads the sidewalk past our house – no, this was something more. All three of our canines were going ballistic.

The front door slammed, then silence.

The murmur of voices resumed as my husband conversed with our guests at the dining room table. I returned to my book, our cat Biscuit tucked in beside me under the covers.

Suddenly, screams split the night. I heard them from down the street, as if one of the neighbors was having an argument after a party. As the noise grew louder, however, it became harder to ignore.

Minutes later the front door burst open. Our son Zalmy raced in and grabbed my husband, urging him to hurry. "Come ON!" he cried.

The door slammed again.

Silence returned, except for muted chuckles around the Shabbat table as the guests wondered what could have inspired all the excitement.

Finally, the truth arrived in the form of my son running up the stairs to my room to drag me out.

"Abba wants you!" he urged. "Come on. You MUST come outside right away!" He wouldn't take no for an answer. Resigned, I donned a robe and a coat, prepared to freeze for the cause.

What greeted my astonished eyes made it all worthwhile, however.

There stood my 18-year-old wise guy daughter in the middle of the street, hysterical. Generally the epitome of arrogance, she was now reduced to tears and stamping her foot in what looked like nothing so much as the tantrum of a frightened three-year-old child.

Spotting me as I crossed the yard, she gesticulated wildly.

"I was chased by a GOAT!" she shrieked. "It FOLLOWED ME! I was trapped between Johnny and the Goat.

"But Avi saved me," she added. "Lilach (her friend) ran all the way to the Meshulash (The Triangle Shul), she was so scared." The Triangle Shul, mind you, is at least 10 blocks away.

The offending Goat, meanwhile, was placidly walking down the street with my grinning husband, who was leading it by a big blue leash that I recognized from walks with Avi and Lily's pit bull, Johnny. Avi soon followed.

"Aaaaaaaauuuuuughhhhhh!" My daughter took one look and fled into the house.

Avi explained, "I heard screaming outside my window, and I was already in bed. But Coby had run into my yard, and she was trapped between Johnny and the Goat. She claimed the Goat had chased her and her friend Lilach down the street. His eyes twinkled.

"I never heard of such a thing," he chuckled. "If it had been someone else, I might have believed it. But from a kid of yours? Impossible."

Avi went on to explain that he hurried into his pants and trotted outside to see what was wrong. What he found was Coby hopping up and down, hysterical, unable to move closer to the perceived safety of the house or farther out of the yard, for fear of being following by The Goat.

"It must be Tal's," he concluded. "She is the only one on the street who has a goat right now. Bring it down to her. Even if it's not, at least she will keep it." He smiled and went home. "You can give me back Johnny's leash tomorrow," he called back over his shoulder.

We asked Zalmy to check its plumbing to determine its gender, thinking that if indeed it were a stray, and if it were a female, and IF we were to keep it, we would at least be able to have milk and cheese.

It was indeed a female. We were pretty sure she belonged to our neighbor, Tal, who had acquired one when her baby was born, precisely for the health benefits of rich, fresh goat's milk.

I petted The Goat, who butted her head against me, clearly enjoying the caress. "I guess we have to take her over there to see if Tal is missing a goat, right?" my husband asked wistfully.

"Yes." I was firm. Having already hosted a lost donkey, I was unprepared to take on a lost goat on a Friday night without making very sure she was truly homeless.

Meanwhile, our guests were leaving. A Young Judea volunteer who had just acquired us as his new adoptive family was beside himself with joy. Clearly he had gotten far more than he had bargained for at this first Shabbat meal in Arad. Beaming, he assured us that he would share all the details with our other new adoptee, a girl who had been unable to come.

You could just see him mentally rubbing his hands in glee at having this exciting tale to tell.

My husband and son turned away and slowly led The Goat down the street.

Ten minutes later, they returned with the update.

"The goat belongs to Tal," I was informed. "But she is either sleeping soundly or is just not home. So we went to her boyfriend (who lives next door) to figure out what to do," my husband explained. "He tried to reach her, but to no avail, so instead he agreed to babysit The Goat until tomorrow."

"Where is she now?" I asked, curious.

"Who, Tal?"

"No, The Goat!"

"Oh. "In his living room."

My husband sighed, then smiled ruefully. "For a minute there, I thought we might have a new goat…"

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