At the Shore, the sand is the texture of thick, cold porridge. On the mainland, a promising strawberry season has met a painfully premature end in many places. And if you feel as though you've been living under a cloud for a month - you have.

Whatever Rodgers and Hammerstein had in mind by their lyric "fresh and alive and gay and young, June is a love song sweetly sung," this probably wasn't it.

June 2009 has been a month that only a fungus could love.

The next clear day in the region - and showers are in the forecast at least through Sunday - will be the first of the month. Officially, rain has fallen at the airport on 14 of the last 18 days; the 3.4-inch total is 1.59 above normal. The temperature has yet to go above 85, and it's been so chilly at night that even people without air-conditioning are keeping the windows closed.

With the ground soaked with sun-repelling moisture and the weather pattern stubborn, some meteorologists wonder if this will become the summer without a heat wave. And all this rain could affect crops into the fall.

In the meantime, the gloom is having more immediate effects.

At the Pennsauken Country Club, general manager Robert G. Prickett has seen nothing like this in his 33 years at the golf course, he said.

"We're way down," Prickett said, flipping open a notebook showing that from January through May, the course had 80 no-play days - meaning no golfers showed up.

The rains have clouded the outlook for crops, agricultural experts said.

"It's more of an indirect effect," said Raymond J. Samulis, interim chief of the Rutgers University agricultural extension in Gloucester County. "It's preventing farmers from getting out into the field." The rains could have an impact on some of the sweet corn and soybean harvests, he added.

"It's just not very pleasant out there," Samulis said.

Unless . . .

"If you're a fungus you're happy," said Timothy E. Elkner, an educator at the Lancaster County Penn State Cooperative Extension, proving that you can't displease all the organisms all the time. "There's some smiling pathologists around these days."

The rains have generated a bumper crop of fungi, and an outbreak of fungal rot on the strawberry crop, which is exiting a little earlier than usual thanks to the rot and rain.

"When you get these really hard rains, it just beats up the strawberries," Elkner said.

In recent weeks the region has found itself in an atmospheric soup. It has been on the border of frontal boundaries, almost never a good place to be, since storms tend to ripple along those fronts.

The jet stream, the upper-air boundary between warm and cold air, has been displaced farther south than usual, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the government's Climate Prediction Center, outside Washington. That has helped keep the region generally cool and wet.

Why the oft-maligned jet stream, which gets blamed for almost everything except swine flu and the Phillies' losing record at home, has been so out of joint remains a mystery.

The wetness of the soil could delay serious summer heat because the sun will have to evaporate it before it can heat the surface. "You've got to dry everything up," said Anthony Gigi, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.

"We may already have had our hottest part of the summer," said Joe Bastardi, a meteorologist with Accu-Weather Inc. in State College, Pa. He was referring to the stretch from April 25 to 27, the last time the temperature here hit 90.

The downpour has been a downer.

"It's been horrible," said Laurie Spann, 28, a Philadelphia graduate student who is working as a casino beach-bar waitress in Atlantic City, where rainfall for the month is 170 percent of normal. "If it rains, it means no customers. No work.

"I've been down here since late May, and thanks to the weather I've probably made less than 500 bucks in tips so far," Spann said.

"It's so wet I think I'm going to sell my truck and buy a boat," said Alex Falcone, owner of Panini's restaurant in Old City, where business is down 40 to 50 percent. In April, he beefed up his staff for the tourist season - and then had to lay off the new hires. He blames the weather more than the economy.

"There's nothing I can do about it, that's for sure," he said. "You can't fight mother nature."

The weather has had an upside, though, for Christopher Toriello, who owns Executive Auto Salon in Center City. True, business is off by about half because of the rain. But he also runs a body shop, and that's been booming thanks to rain-induced accidents. So on some days when the detailers are filing their nails, over in the body shop "we can't handle all the work."

And the silver-lining award may go to Ian Caton, a designer at Larry Weaner Landscape Associates in Glenside, whose landscaping crews usually work in the rain.

"It's nothing too bad," Caton said, "and we don't have to irrigate the new installations."

Contact staff writer Anthony R. Wood at 610-313-8210 or twood@phillynews.com.
Contributing to this article were Inquirer staff writers Wallace McKelvey, Traver Riggins, Max Stendahl, and Liz Wagner.