You missed it.

Those of you waiting today in breathless anticipation for the arrival of the vernal equinox, for sunny rays to fall vertically on the equator--in other words, for spring--are a day late. It sprang, astronomically speaking, at 5:56 p.m. EST yesterday, instead of the usual March 21.

Official spring is determined not by the days of our lives, but by the rotation of the earth in relation to the sun, the moment when day and night are equal. Spring came yesterday to cool temperatures, ranging from 41 to 46 degrees, and an occasional rain that was most unconducive to kite flying, bloom sniffing, romantic strolling and other such activities typically associated with the first day of spring.

There were those who braved the weather, however. Stan Rultenberg and Donna Cherry of Philadelphia spent yesterday touring the city, aware that spring was slipping in a day ahead of its traditional calendar date and disappointed that the weather would not cooperate.

"Nobody told us the city's closed on weekends," said Rultenberg dejectedly. "But we went to the White House--which was a disappointment, we had more fun standing in line--and the East Wing, and the Air and Space Museum."

"But there's nobody out here," said Cherry. "Where are the people?" They were optimistic that today--on the second day of spring--the gloomy weather would lift.

Fortunately for them, the National Weather Service reports that after scattered showers this morning, the sun will burn brightly and temperatures will inch toward the 60s. After all, it is March 21.