Spring, possibly a false spring, arrives at 94708 in February. The plum trees and numerous bushes are the first sign. I say "false," because warmer weather is often followed by a brutal period of much colder weather before it warms up again and the cherry trees blossom. The whole climatic sequence has been somewhat out of kilter, though. A colleague in Chicago theorizes that it's a month out of sync with what we remember. I'm not sure if this is true or not. Compared to last year, it's been a dry, mild winter. We usually put up curtains between the hallway and the main rooms in the house to stop the escape of warm air into the maw of the hallway and also cut the draft. We haven't done so this year, because it hasn't been cold enough to warrant it. We'll pay for the dry winter in the summer, probably, since our water comes from the snow pack. There's probably still a surplus from last year, which was over the top, but if we have another dry winter next year, we'll be in trouble. Meanwhile, of course, it's easier to get back and forth without a deluge. When it rains here, it often pours - Pacific storms that blow in and, whipped by the wind, come down in sheets, making umbrellas less effective and sometimes useless. That hasn't really happened this year.