Last Sunday we took a drive in the countryside, which for us is the northern "badia" (semi-arid, desert-like, but not officially desert). A friend had shown Dear Husband a reserve area about a 10 minute drive north of Mafraq; sheep are not allowed to graze there and so wildflowers abound in the spring, so he says. I think we were a little early as we only found some promising green sprouts here and there.
We continued past the reserve and came across a deserted a stone(mostly) and mud brick (some) village. This looked like a good place to get out and explore. Note of interest: some mud brick structures are still inhabited and as late as 1963 nearly all of Mafraq, now a city of 50,000, consisted of mud brick structures.
I, of course, went searching for signs of new flora life. All I found were some stinging nettles.
Pretty though they were, with their aubergine colored immature fruits, the hypodermic needle-like hairs on their leaves gave them away, and one slight accidental brush against a leaf in the process of photographing them confirmed my identification. Definitely, stinging nettles.
Wildflower spotting: village about 10 kilometers northwest of Mafraq
While I search ground for signs of flora life, Dear Husband and Tatya's eyes searched for potter sherds. Dear Husband showed Tayta how to tell the difference between pottery that was fired in a hot vs a not-so-hot oven: the pottery fired at a lower temperature a core layer of pottery which is a different color than the terracotta exterior (shown above).