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Gloom, bring on the bloom

Persistent rainfall has cast a pall on the region

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By Akilah Johnson
Globe Staff / May 20, 2011

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When doctors forecast a dreary month of isolation for Robin Fox, who was exposed to the measles, there was one ray of hope in the order to spend most of May locked inside her Jamaica Plain home: You can go out for a spin on your bike or to walk the dog, doctors told her, as long as you don’t have contact with other people.

And then this week: It rained, and rained — and rained some more.

“People keep assuming and saying, ‘It’s a good thing that it’s raining because you can’t go outside,’ and I’m like: ‘It’s just the opposite,’ ’’ Fox, 50, said while sitting on her front porch yesterday with Sammi, a copper-colored Chow mix. Both were taking advantage of a rare sunny moment in an otherwise soggy day. “I haven’t been able to walk the dog. She doesn’t like the rain.’’

Sammi is not alone. The week’s persistent pall and below-average temperatures created gloomy dispositions, and a bit of a nuisance, for many Bostonians.

Ice cream sales? They’re down. Who wants rocky road on a rain-spattered road? And you can forget about garden supplies and softball games when the earth turns into a mushy mess.

“The weather stinks,’’ Robin Bird said yesterday while sitting in her car in a Shaw’s parking lot in Dorchester. “I play softball, and we haven’t played all week because it’s been rained out.’’

The season starts in May, and Bird, who plays on five teams, said she usually has up to five games each week. So far this season, she’s played just two games. Two of her teams — the Twelve Bens and Boston Astros — were sidelined last night because “the fields are a wreck,’’ she said, adding that the whole situation is disappointing and more than a little depressing.

Evan Garcia, a supervisor at J.P. Licks on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain, had another word for the weather: Icky.

“April showers bring May flowers, but this one hasn’t figured it out just yet. This May doesn’t realize it’s May,’’ he said while ringing up a cup of coffee. “Normally, around this time, we have a line wrapped around the store.’’

There was no line yesterday. A steady stream of customers ordered steaming cups of coffee but only the occasional ice cream cone.

Lenny Cox can cosign Garcia’s sentiment. Who wants to turn over garden soil when it’s cold and wet outside?

“I have been too lazy and the weather hasn’t been that good,’’ the 74-year-old said about his 20- by 30-foot plot in a community garden on the border of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain.

So the plot will sit ignored until his son arrives in the coming days. Cox said he will let his son deal with the ground, the weeds, and the rain so he can plant his seeds for tomatoes, string beans, and collard greens.

“Once it’s started and turned over, I can handle it from there,’’ the Southern transplant said.

Boston’s average rainfall is 1.91 inches in May, when the temperature typically rises to the mid- to upper-60s, according to the National Weather Service. But 2.44 inches of rain has soaked the Hub so far this month, with temperatures in the upper 50s or low 60s.

These conditions are here because of a trough of low pressure, said Rebecca Gould, a Weather Service meteorologist. Normally, weather patterns just keep moving, she said. “This one’s been stuck.’’

Hopefully, this trough will begin to bid Boston adieu as the weekend forecast calls for a partly sunny sky. There’s even a chance of a reprieve from the rain sometime today, Gould said: “You might see a few peeks of the sun.’’

If nothing else, the rain should be good for growing things, particularly grass, even if it has slowed the sale of mulch and topsoil, garden supply stores said.

“We sell a lot of mulch that people put around their bushes and trees to keep the moisture in, but there’s no real need right now,’’ said Ken Fitzpatrick, a contractor and landscaper for more than 20 years who works at the ACE Hardware on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain.

Because this week has seen steady soakings instead of torrential downpours, seedlings should flourish, Fitzpatrick said while standing in front of a display of 20- and 40-pound bags of potting mix.

So, he said, expect to see flowers, trees, and plants going through a growth spurt when the sun finally comes out.

Akilah Johnson can be reached at ajohnson@globe.com.