I started residency when the extroverted feeler was 6 months old.

We lived in Portland, Oregon. There is a golf course with rhododendren gardens that was near us. The gardens wound through a lake, or well, really more of a series of ponds that weren't quite a swamp.

We took the extroverted feeler for a walk there many times. One day it was early and there were not lots of people around, though some. We came down a little hill nearing a bridge.

There was a nutria sitting on the edge of the water. A nutria looks exactly like a giant rat. In fact, they really may be giant rats, or certainly rodents, though this one was plump, unhurried and relaxed. It looked like a cross between a rat and a beaver, but much mellower than either.

The EF said, "Can I pet it?" He was around three years old.

"No!" said his father and at the same time I said, "You can try."

The EF was approaching the nutria. He was cautious because this was a large creature and it was looking larger the closer he got. "I wouldn't move fast, EF, you don't want to get bitten." I was saying while his father said, "It might be rabid! Stop him! Don't let him go near it!"

The EF walked slower and slower as the nutria watched him. It did not look scared nor rabid nor angry. It looked calm. The EF patted the nutria once very lightly on the head. The nutria and he stared at each other for a long moment and then the nutria calmly stepped to the bank and into the water. It swam slowly away.

The EF's father was having a fit. "How could you let him do that? What if it were rabid?"

"Well, I didn't think it was. It isn't. It didn't hurt him."

The EF watched the nutria swim away, pleased but also a bit impressed by this contact with the wild in the garden in Portland.

Hmm. I had forgotten the name of the garden. I'm not sure they will like being called a swamp. But I LIKE swamps.

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