The rain this afternoon is no more than a whisper. Nothing worth mentioning, really. Last year's brown leaves are caught in the year-round, unremarkable green of the skimmia - I think it's a skimmia - and stuck in clumps, like old birds nests, among the confusions of the St. John's wort. The pots that don't have the dead or dormant remains of last year's plants have sprouted gray green beards of weed and moss.

The faded gray umbrella of the patio table looks mildewed. The plastic patio furniture frames wait in their gray stacks, impervious to whatever rain may come. Even the cushions, piled in the little grayish-blue shed, are patterned with gray-green leaves and stems on a dull background.

My mind is a little mossy right now, too. A little old and gray. A little uninspired.

I know! I'll get new cushions this year. Bright ones. Patterned with fuschias - no, wait - geraniums - no, wait - chrysanthemums! Orange and red and yellow. Splayed across a brick wall of burnt umber below a fiery sunset. I could pile them in the window of the shed over the winter, so I could see them from here. On days like this. That's the most inspirational thought I've had all day. Could probably use a new umbrella, too.