Being a member of the Bella a Capella singing group is not just about the music – it’s about love and friendship – and having a damned good time even in the face of adversity.
A couple of years ago I wrote on this blog about my friend Sandy’s Big Birthday, at which her partner Cliff gave her a moving accolade.
This week Sandy had another birthday but, sadly, Cliff is no longer here to celebrate it with her because some weeks ago he died, after a long illness, leaving Sandy to cope with a large house and garden alone. She has decided to make the most of her assets by converting part of the house to a B and B. It’s a big challenge but Sandy is full of grit so she’ll undoubtedly make a success of it. To help her get off to a good start, her friends in Bella a Capella decided to give her the best birthday present they could – a working bee. First priority was to restore the vegetable garden and ornamental border adjacent to what will become the guest quarters, which had become neglected during the long period of Cliff’s illness – and that’s what we did yesterday afternoon.
Eight of the Bellas* turned up for the occasion, in our scruffiest clothes and armed with gardening tools (and food and wine!). At first sight the job seemed overwhelming for a bunch of not-so-young women but despite occasional showers we got stuck in and after 2 ½ hours this section of the garden was transformed – cleared, weeded, tidied, raked, swept, rubbish bagged up, beds fertilised and mulched. All ready for Sandy to plant out with a selection of organically-grown foodstuff.
The thing about being a Bella is that we always have fun and just love being together. It’s a very varied group of women that includes health professionals, writers, artists, scientists, teachers, social workers and corporate executives – among others. Most of us are good gardeners and cooks, too (okay Bernice K, that excludes you but then you do have other talents!). So taking on a gardening task gave us a chance to share our knowledge and reminisce about vegetables we have grown, herbs we have harvested, fruit we have turned into jams and pickles.
Mind you, all this knowledge didn’t stop some of us pulling out Sandy’s chives, thinking they were nut grass! And there was some disagreement as to whether the asparagus foliage should be cut back or not!
After the work was done and we’d straightened our backs and washed our grubby hands and swapped our muddy boots for other footwear we gathered on Sandy’ big verandah from which you can see nothing but trees (the B and B will prove very popular with birdwatchers) to consume our wine and nibblies. Dianne, the El Supremo of cake-making, had of course made a gorgeous birthday cake for Sandy and we toasted her and each other (and Bernice for organising it all) and then did what the Bellas do best – sang!
We all had such a good time I think we shall have to do it again!
*(Bernice, Brenda, Louise, Sue, Julie, Linda, Dianne, Renee)