Out for a walk, Maddie pauses at the corner to watch as a road crew lowers one of their fellows, outfitted in protective gear, into the sewer. She marvels as they monitor his progress on a video screen. “What are they looking for?” she asks.

I shrug. “Alligators,” I offer. “Maybe crocodiles.”

“Really?” asks Maddie, tucking her tail between her legs. “That’s unnerving.”

I give her a wink. “Might not be alligators. Could be jellyfish. Or giant squid.”

“Squid, eh?” says Maddie, wrinkling her nose and staring up at me. “You’re making this stuff up,” she says.

“You got me,” I confess. “No alligators, no crocodiles, no giant squid.”

“What about the jellyfish?”

“Those, we’ve got,” I say. “There are lots of jellyfish in the Petaluma River. They show up every summer. Maybe they’ve started swimming up the pipes.”

“Oh,” says Maddie, considering. “Too bad they’re not peanut butter and jellyfish.”