One of the delights of living in the Bay Area comes in February, when plum and cherry trees start to bloom. While most of the rest of the country sits under a blanket of snow, those of us in northern California get a peek of spring.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...