Halloween is over. We don't have to worry about things that go bump in the night. Or do we? With each passing week comes a new concern -- something you can't even see that is lurking underground, threatening homes, cars and even human life.

It's a dangerous thing called root damage. When a tree gets so weak it can't hold itself up, it comes crashing down. Reader Bonnie Marks heard the sound just last week in the hills. Crackle, swoosh, crash -- and then silence. She knows the sound well, having had a giant tree come down on her roof, just last spring. Her husband was up every 90 minutes during the night, emptying buckets of rainwater that were pouring through the gaping hole. Yet, it could have been worse. The Monterey Pine narrowly missed falling on Marks, who had just pulled her car in the driveway.

Readers Satoko and Jeff Davidson say at least two trees have fallen across Highway 13 this year -- with one incident causing a fatality.

In the second case, a motorcycle rider was injured and his Harley was reportedly totaled.

This is a reminder to all of us -- whether we're homeowners or not. We need to be aware of our surroundings. There are sights and sounds in nature that are meant to be warnings. And we've got five senses ... six, really ... that can help keep us safe if we use them.

CRIME ALERT: There've been recent reports of men "surveying" streets using cameras and clipboards. In at least one case, the suspicious activity has prompted hills neighbors to form a phone tree and email alert system -- a good idea, no matter what the reason. Readers also report a rise in neighborhood patrols, where residents take turns walking and driving their streets. One watch group wears orange vests that say "Neighborhood Patrol."

DIFFERENT STROKES: In the wake of my column on the hills dad (Jeff Everett) who swam the Strait of Gibraltar last month, the name of a second swimmer has surfaced. I'm told Danielle Ruymaker crossed the Straits earlier this summer, in July. Both Ruymaker and Everett swim in the 6 a.m. Masters Program at the Hills Swim and Tennis Club. If you ask me, just getting up at that hour is a feat worth mentioning.

EMAIL BAG: With the growing number of wild turkeys digging up gardens and lawns in the hills, my musings about "bagging a bird" for Thanksgiving have ruffled some feathers. Reader Anne Thys says she suspects I was just taking poetic license, but she worries that someone might take me seriously and shoot a bird. "I'd actually been thinking of posting signs asking people to protect the creatures during the perilous period that approaches for them," she writes. "This area is special, and has its trade-offs," she adds. "If one wants roses and lawns and delicate flowers, one should get a fence."

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-723-2525, by email at ginnyprior@hotmail.com or on the web at www.ginnyprior.com.