I’m thinking of nameless blue flowers bleeding blue, blue like the diva Plavalaguna from The Fifth Element. Then there are little blossoms of chantilly and pink and magenta, like an old Laura Ashley dress in the afternoon sun. And finally those surreal irises whose violet never shows on camera, how strange. I’ll never remember them the way they really were if I rely on modern pictures and not Impressionist paintings or my own tricky mind.

Monet’s art evolved from the almost photographic to pure color. It’s as if he slowly acquired the ability to abstract color from everything he saw. Towards the end, shapes became completely disposable, and only light remained. Such a revelation takes forever to grasp, and yet he did! He was even able to express it brilliantly. Having been able to see that process of reduction (there was a huge Monet exhibition last year in Tokyo), of discarding the unnecessary and keeping the essential was fascinating.

Sometimes I wish I could keep a certain color, a certain light forever. The best camera cannot do that. Photoshop it as much as you want—it may become prettier and livelier, but not the same as the one you saw. I stare into that azalea bud covered in dew, and I know there will never be another chance to catch that vivid magenta if it’s not through my eyes. And even then my mind will slowly blur it, distort it, wash it away. I wonder what will become of that azalea in twenty years.

I find myself at a loss with flowers, it seems. Unlike Monet, I find myself at a loss with spring altogether.