Sis­ters of sod

Port de Grave women no slouches with the lawn mower

The Compass - - SPORTS - BYBURTON K. JANES

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.

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