The daffodils are out.

Calendars insist spring begins March 21. What do they know? Here it is March 5, and the daffodils are out.

The ones sold in the flower shops or peddled on the street do not really count--for all we know they raised them in a greenhouse in Orlando, Fla. Crocuses don't count, either. Crocuses are perverse, they're always in a hurry. Daffodil Day daffodils, the ones that truly matter, appear in Rock Creek Park on the bank above the Parkway, between Thompson's Boat House and the P Street Beach.

Daffodil Day in Washington is a semiprivate holiday, celebrated annually, quietly and gladly. Its date is imprecise.

The daffodils' dark leaves were up last week. (Nearby, in the shadows, the gray dregs of the blizzard were fighting their last fight.) By Sunday yellow bullets had appeared on the stalks. By Monday they were trumpeting.

Sen. Howard H. Baker (R-Tenn.) saw one in the park Tuesday. It was rainy. He was driving, lonely as a majority leader, on his way to work, when, as he reported to the Senate, "a vertical vision, no longer than several inches high, attracted my undivided attention."

Although "it was mesmerizing," he made it to the office. Like other witnessing commuters, he drove the last few blocks in a Daffodil Day dream. His meditations, recounted to his colleagues, touched on Alice in Wonderland, photography, the movies of Walt Disney and on Lady Bird Johnson, too.

Usually the daffodils blossom around March 15. This year they are early. That's the nicest thing that's happened since the Redskins won the Super Bowl.

The daffodils are out.