If I hadn’t been determined to find beauty in wrinkled and parched skin, looking to reverse my own tremors and terrors over aging, I never would have watched the orchid with such determined eyes.

It came into my house in winter in the way of any flower, as a gift of the gods, a thing of beauty, cloaked in rich and shiny colors, to grace my world. Then I decided to chronicle the orchid’s decline, to observe the changes it revealed as the weeks went by. Imagine my surprise, in the spring of last year, when I took this dried bloom—this thing to which I had become strangely attached—and held it up to the sky.

One click of the camera and I saw it juxtaposed with the clouds and, truly, it looked like something resurrected, a delicate thing of translucent beauty. In that instant, the flower of youth, with her lushness and deep colors, became merely a stunning reflection of this refined grande dame. And old age became the exquisite skeleton on which youth had merely draped her ornate clothes.