Classic mystery novels usually open with a set of unexplained occurrences that pique the curiosity of the protagonist.
The clues frequently, but not always, lead to a malicious event that leaves only the disconnected evidence available for identifying the perpetrator.
This is a frequently used theme in horror movies and horticulture. An alien species is introduced into a pristine environment, either intentionally or by accident, and quickly escapes control to the detriment of the locals.
Unfortunately, when this scenario occurs in a setting with native plants or a home landscape, the recovery is both costly and destructive. In many cases the intruder must be beaten back repeatedly.
After violent storms like those in early January, there are discussions about the trees which have fallen. Too many times the trees in question have landed on a home or another structure which resulted in damage.
Frequently water and laurel oaks are the culprits. They are commonly found in the area and with shallow roots these large trees have a relatively short life span.
Out-of-the way corners in abandoned places conjure up a variety of disquieting images.
The early winter silence in these neglected locales gives way to the subtle scurrying of unknown creatures attempting to avoid contact and confrontation.
As the old saying goes, good things usually come in small packages.
Surprises which arrive in small, subtle ways do not always mean a corresponding big, pleasant surprise during this month of festivities.
The seasonally cooler weather has had a silencing effect on the nighttime chorus of insects, amphibians and most other animals. The frogs and cicadas are taking shelter in anticipation of the warmer months to come.
Common among the native nocturnal animals is the opossum (Didelphis virginiana). This resourceful scavenger is found in forested areas, fields and pastures, and even places with a high density of humans.
The month of November has brought on decidedly cooler temperatures.
Admittedly these recent thermometer readings are not at the subfreezing point of latitudes further north, but there is enough of a drop to cause a change in wardrobe.
People who collect items do so for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the purpose is an unlimited curiosity about the subject which is collected. Stamp and coin collectors often fall into this category.
The autumn season in Santa Rosa County brings out another variety of collector which has practical and utilitarian objectives for their collecting activity. Seed collectors are actively acquiring mature seeds for one of two diametrically opposed reasons.
Exotic invasive species are a continuing problem for panhandle Florida, and many other places in the country.
The non-natives are brought into an ideal environment where they can grow and proliferate with unrestrained abound.
Sometimes residents and visitors are concerned about a surprise encounter with one of the 45 species of native snakes. In the cooler weather these coldblooded reptiles are unable to avoid the chance meeting which usually ends badly, at least for the snake.
In reality, it is far more likely to find a weed given a name based on one of its features which mimic a snake. One of these is corn snakeroot, a native wildflower currently blooming in Santa Rosa County.
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