I told myself I would have it done by the time the roses bloomed.
My new novel, that is.
I do that sometimes, set an arbitrary time of year – not a date, never a date – when I will finish a book. It gives me something to shoot for. When the trees turn red. When the first snow falls. A seasonal moment which my project will match with its completion.
When the roses bloom.
I have been working for some time on a manuscript that shows some signs that it wants to be finished. But I still have chapters to revise before I can call it done. Yet it’s Spring, high rose season.
Just to see where things stood, how far behind I was, I thought I would pay a visit to the lovely grounds of Lyndhurst, the historic site near my house. This was the estate of the robber baron Jay Gould, and the old mansion is grey and gothic and not to my taste, though the huge specimen trees and plantings always astound. There is a fantastic heirloom rose garden there, one that I usually seem to get to too late to enjoy the blooms at their height.
This year the place was nearly deserted, and the circle of plants looked suspiciously green as I approached across the perfect lawn. There were two visiting matrons; one said, You must not miss the yellow blossoms on that bush, they smell like lemon.
And they did. But the lemon roses were one of only a few shrubs out of dozens there that were actually in bloom. Others offered wicked thorns.
Or buds so tightly sewn up it was hard to imagine them ever opening.
I’ve come across some thorns and some sewn-tight problems in the narrative I’m working on, so I could appreciate them. I wished I could have seen Lyndhurst’s roses, lush, exploded, lemon, yes, but also vanilla, musk and all the other scents that don’t have proper names imagined yet.
More than anything, though, I felt happy. Because the roses had not yet bloomed, and my novel will bloom when they do.