Saturday, 13 July 2013

Verity Damson

Dear readers,
With every passing year I am learning to be more Proustian in my alertness to the look and feel of my surroundings.  It's a skill which requires being present in the instant with niggling worries locked away and a slow, steady heartbeat.   I still haven't mastered the art of standing still for long: my mother has been teaching me the philosophy behind Chi Kung and so far I cannot stand like a tree for longer than five minutes.  I prefer instead to be in motion and find my senses to be more alert to my surroundings when walking.
Now that the sweet cherry season has finished I am scouring our beautiful countryside for damson trees.  I know the fruit will be ready to pick mid-August once we have returned from our holiday and I want to make the most of them as soon as they are ripe.  Damsons, the close sibling of the garden plum, are both generous and inviting, weighing down their brittle branches like great purple gems. As long as you have plenty of sugar in store they make glorious crumbles and cobblers and a rich dark-coloured jam.  There is, of course, the famous damson cheese which Monty Don mentions in The Ivington Diaries; an intense and superb conserve to be enjoyed with game, lamb, and a good strong cheese.
 Aside from its rich, deep flavour the damson is a true aesthetic charm.  One of my favourite descriptions of its beauty comes from The Morville Hours by Katherine Swift.

'I have never left the damsons so late on the tree, and their emerald felsh is succulent and sweet beneath their blue-black coats.  When I later turn them out on to the kitchen table, the heap of shining black fruit with their matt powder-blue overlay is flecked with narrow pale gold leaves.  What a colour scheme for a room!  My little study perhaps?  How lovely to paint one's rooms the colours of the fruit in the garden.'

I may not be able, for the time being, to paint our home's walls the same shades as apples, plums and pears (just wait until we buy own house) but I was able to create a doll dressed in rich purple.  Let me introduce you to Miss Verity Damson whose heart belongs to late summer when the damson plums ripen and glisten on the old plum tree in her garden.  She loves to make damson crumble or to top a rich buttery cake with plums and sugar.  She also loves, as you may have noticed, the colour purple. I had so much fun sewing this doll who reminds me of the Kate Greenaway illustrations I relished as a child. She wears pantaloons stitched from 1900s hand-embroidered tulle and trimmed with antique creamy lace and I have embroidered little violets on her Liberty fabric bonnet.
 The damsons may not be ready to pick yet but, believe me, I spent many an hour dreaming of them in the presence of this little lady.  I think, perhaps, I should make some more friends for Verity to bring to fruition more of my dreams.
Happy, beautiful summer to you all!
A bientôt,
ps Verity Damson has flown to a new home in England.


  1. What a sweetheart Miss Verity Damson is, and as a damson lover myself I quite understand her penchant for purple.

    She's enchanting Stephanie :)

  2. Good afternoon precious friend! I am pleasantly surprised by your message today in regards to being charmed by the fast-past route to our goals, while all the time missing the important Proustian pleasures...my next blog post that I started yesterday touch in a very pithy way on that very subject.

    My goodness, how you tie in your thoughts so lovely with your art...Stephanie, it is always a joy to read your work, then to see your sewing, knitting, crocheting or whatever else you are creating! Summer time is a fabulous season for she wants to speak to us, to slow us down to watch the changes as she brings forth her fruits, sweet pleasures that are as fleeting as the wind.

    How I've missed your posts. I am enjoying the poetry class I'm taking, but missing blog posting. So much has gone on here...good things and otherwise, but we are in good spirits.

    Sending you fond wishes and applause for always a job well-done. Anita

  3. Verity Damson is very sweet, I love her little bonnet! Oh yes more friends for her would be a very good idea indeed!
    I love that description of damsons. :)
    Happy weekend lovely Stephanie,
    V xxx

  4. Miss Verity Damson is beautiful.
    I'm not one for staying still myself but once in awhile it's nice to stop and look at the sky.

    Have a good weekend.

  5. Stephanie,
    You have out done yourself with Miss Verity Damson. She is a delight. And she reminds me of Holly Hobby a sweet doll I had growing up, okay I am showing my age right now, but I loved her so.
    Well done my friend.

  6. She looks so friendly, I'm sure her new owner will love her so much! :) x

  7. Dear Stephanie,
    Nice to meet Miss Verity Damson. The purple colour is delight for the eyes. And your words for the mind... waiting for the end of summer damsons pies. I'm in love with the embroideries of her little bonnet. Adorable. Many thanks for the books references, look like marvels to discover. Happy July!

  8. Stephanie, your multi-faceted homage to the beautiful damson has truly set me off down my own memory lane. That you for such graceful direction!

    This newly created Miss Damson is very well dressed. Every detail adds up to her delightful personality. I expect that she is a fine friend and do hope that we might eventually be meeting some of her best friends. Her tiny slippers are perfect!

    Stephanie, I also find more natural to be in motion. It takes some concentration for me to be still. When I can manage to quiet my body and mind, benefits seem apparent. Perhaps practice will improve the transition from busy-ness to a calmer state. Perhaps. xo

  9. Her outfit is so lovely. The little details like the cross stitch on her bonnet are terrific.

  10. I love Damsons - the bloom on the purple skin and the green flesh. How well you've reflected their colours in Miss Verity's clothes and eyes.
    We have a bumper crop on our damson tree this year ... many weeks to go before they are ripe, the anticipation is part of the joy!


  11. very cute! she must have been so fun to make :)

  12. I agree 'how lovely to paint one's rooms the colours of the fruits in the garden'! I envisage gooseberry walls and blackberry painted chairs! Verity Damson would feel most at home! Beautiful embroidery and attention to detail as usual. I can imagine Verity with a whole host of fruit friends. x

  13. so glad we got to meet you, Miss verity!!! I wish we were able to roam the countryside finding such delectable treats....none to be found in our part of the world. Do count yourselves among the quite lucky!!!

    staying in the moment....how I wish I was better at that. I used to think I was the only 'dreamer' out there....missing my immediate surroundings....in favor of my fantasy world. focus, focus, focus....I'm trying. Good luck to you, too!

  14. Ahhh...the magic again as I come here to THANK YOU my dear and sweet Stephanie, for coming to visit with me! I just had some lovely plums last night for a dessert, as we sat on our deck and had a chicken stew cooked in white wine. So French!

    I can just imagine you taking in all the beauty of a French summer day. Be well my friend. Anita

  15. Hello Stephanie,
    Oh I am so in love with Miss Verity Damson, she is such an amazing creation!! I adore damsons :) I love the way your work is always inspired by your connection to nature, it makes everything you create extra special and unique!! Please give Miss Verity Damson a hug for me :) and hugs for you too, Vicky xx

  16. She is perfect and I want to wear a Miss Verity Damson bonnet x

  17. What a sweet little lady you made Stephanie :-)! She has an enchanting name too :-).Those damsons look really good. It's strange, but we don't have any plums on our trees this year. We had lots of them last year, but this year.... Perhaps it's due to the cold winter and spring. So, I'll just enjoy your photo's :-)

    Wishing you a happy new week!

    Madelief x

  18. If those damsons grow wild in the hedgerows they do indeed make the most delicious jam when combined with other berries that grow there too...
    Your little Miss is a perfect tribute to Summer.
    Susan x

  19. Dear Stephanie,

    How sweet little Miss Verity Damson is in her pretty dress and bonnet. I love how you have designed the colour scheme from the fruit around your beautiful countryside.

    Joyeux Quatorze Juillet, bonne fete.

  20. I love Verity Damson very much, and yes, more friends for her please! We once stayed in a holiday cottage which had a little orchard full of damson trees and the owner was happy for us to pick away. I came home with kilos of the fruit and made apple and damson jam. It was divine, very autumnal in flavour if you know what I mean. xx

  21. How beautiful she is, dear Stephanie!! You know, these little plums were always my grandmother's favorite...and although a bit on the sour side....I relish them, and think of her....thank you for the memory...
    A lovely week to you!
    - Irina

  22. what a pretty lady like the colors of plum and violet purple very sweet

  23. Hello! Thank you for stopping by my blog. I very much enjoyed reading yours today. I think that those colors would make a beautiful room. I am looking around my house and thinking of colors now. One of my sons has moved out and I get to pick colors for freshening his old room. You have inspired me!

  24. Dear Stephanie
    Miss Verity Damson is such a pretty little thing and so perfectly suited to her name.
    I am rather partial to Damson Jam and like you can't wait until they are ready to pick. Luckily for me, my neighbour has a damson tree, a bough of which hangs over into my garden. She never picks them so I make the most of her apparent disregard for the little purple fruit.
    Thank you for your comment over at A Good Year. I do so love to hear about your part of the world. Wishing you warm days and sunshine.....but not too warm!

  25. My dear Stephanie, reading your lovely posts is always so enjoyably thought provoking... Right now I am thinking of how sad it is that I've never tasted damson, and that one can never have too much liberty print.
    Warmest wishes,

  26. It is hard to say goodbye to fresh cherries - it seems as though they've only just arrived. I shall have to keep my eyes on the wild plum trees I passed on my rides this spring - it would be wonderful to find some fruit.

    Miss Verity Damson is a kindred spirit ... I too love purple and would happily wear it all the time. :)

    What a lovely, lovely description of plums by Katherine Swift - especially the "matt powder-blue overlay" - perfect! I can just see a room decorated with the black/powder blue/gold colour scheme - an elegant 18th century room with oval panels picked out in gold leaf.

    I have missed a post or two - I do hope your migraines are better now, Stephanie.

  27. she's wonderful, what a skill to be able to make a range of characters inspired by nature and the seasons! I do love her bonnet! Heather x

  28. I have never tasted damsons, but they look-- and by your description, sound-- completely wonderful.

    Little Verity Damson is delightful! Her little face is so intriguing, & as always with your creations, I love the details in her outfit.


  29. Hi , I love your blog always has nice things here, hugs ...


  30. Hares and Mice and now a little Girl - Miss Verity is absolutely gorgeous and I especially love her Liberty Bonnet x

  31. What a beautiful post through and through - and such a wonderful doll! Looks like you are having a lovely summer!

  32. What a pretty name for a lovely doll x

  33. Voilà encore des points communs entre nous ! Aimer le style Proustien et son regard plein de sensibilité porté sur son environnement sur la vie en général ! On me badine souvent avec ça, avec mon amour de Proust !
    Et puis la création de poupées de tissus aussi ... J'aime voir naitre entre mes mains ces petits personnages si semblables et en même temps si singuliers !


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