Sisters of sod
Port de Grave women no slouches with the lawn mower
Synchronized mowing isn’t an officially recognized sport, but perhaps it should be.
If it were, sisters Madeline and Josephine Powell, better known as The Mowing Girls, would surely be tops in their division.
Standing on the sidelines and watching them at work, one cannot help but notice many of the same characteristics used to describe synchronized swimmers. They possess grace, skill, timing, artistry, strength, endurance and flexibility.
They are so synchronized that even their voices meld together when they speak. What they say often overlaps, with one sister finishing a sentence for the other, without any sense of interruption. Indeed, one can barely distinguish between the two voices on a recorder.
Perhaps this is only to be expected of siblings who have always regarded themselves as “sisters and probably best friends,” Madeline says.
Madeline, 43, and her sister, Josephine, 36, now call Port de Grave home. But they hail from the Notre Dame Bay community of Change Islands. Madeline relocated to Port de Grave almost six years ago.
“A man brought me here. Blame it on a man,” she says with a hearty laugh.
Josephine followed her sister to Port de Grave four years ago, and together they forme The Mowing Girls.
“It’s just two girls mowing grass, trying to make a living,” Josephine says. “It’s a seasonal job. That’s all.”
That their arrangement is unique cannot be denied. Not every day does one see two women — sisters, at that — driving a pickup truck, with the words “ The Mowing Girls” emblazoned on the door, then lifting out their lawnmowers and setting to work.
“ We’ve had people come up to us and say, ‘The Mowing Girls ... great. Good job.’ Some people just can’t believe that two women are out there mowing grass,” Madeline says. The duo hears no negative remarks. “But I don’t know what they’re saying behind our backs,” Josephine adds with a smile.
There’s obviously a need for their service; otherwise, The Mowing Girls wouldn’t be able to sustain themselves.
So how did this unique partnership develop? In the beginning, they cleaned for clients. But they noticed there was a demand for lawn maintenance.
Their very first mowing assignment was the Anglican cemetery in Port de Grave.
“While we were doing that,” Madeline elaborated, “a lot of people approached us and said, ‘Is this a business? Do you mow for anybody else?’ “
It was different from their previous jobs, including working at a fish plant and pizza joint.
“ It started out small, and it keeps us going,” Josephine says. “ We enjoy doing it. We work outdoors. There’s also the exercise.”
“ You get your tan,” Madeline adds. “And every job’s different.”
So how’s business? They hardly had a spare minute this past summer. But they’re not complaining.
Madeline, speaking for her sister, reasons, “Everybody’s busy. Everybody works a long day. A lot of people find they just don’t have the time to mow their lawns.”
And who mows their own lawns?
“Actually, I’d like for somebody to mow my grass,” Madeline says. “ We do our own, but ours is usually the last to be done.”
Madeline and Josephine have no plans of retiring any time soon. Nor do they see themselves mowing lawns for the rest of their adult lives. But until then, they will continue bonding as sisters, among the grass clippings and the gas cans.
“ We haven’t had a disagreement,” Madeline says. “ We haven’t said a bad word to each other. But we laugh a lot.”
Sisters Madeline and Josephine Powell are shown at work on a lawn in Shearstown last week.
Madeline and Josephine Powell are The Mowing Girls of Clean and Tidy.