Author Nan McKenzie, April 21, 2014
‘And the voice of the turtle dove will be heard throughout the land.’
This quote from the bible is inscribed on my father’s tombstone. He often quoted it as the April full moon came out, along with, ‘And the voice of the turtle dove will be heard throughout the land.’ April was his favorite month, with great promise held in the lighter days, new sunshine heating up the ground to prepare it for the many flowers he would plant, adding color to our cabin camp on Whitefish Lake. As soon as the ice left the lake for good, he could launch The Ranger, the 40-foot excursion boat he had built to carry “dudes” around the perimeter of the lake two to three times a day in high summer.
Mom, my sisters and I, would begin scrubbing the drive-in grille, the concession stand at Bay Point Drive-In Theatre, and the cabins on the lake. Excitement for the busy coming summer began building, even the trees and bushes did their parts, suddenly turning up green after a heavy April rain that caused squishy worms to leave their underground homes and wriggle along the ground.
We’d turn over the two rental inboard boats and three aluminum canoes that were lazing on land next to the dock. The metal canoes were the first of their kind, (Daddy named them for Egyptian kings), and it took several summers before some people would trust them enough to not sink, thinking that the metal was too heavy to float.
In April, Dad liked to call us outside to see the new buds on the many trees around our log house on the lake, and to notice the bright green grass poking heads up to check out the weather. He’d take the big truck with a trailer hooked to the back down to Big Arm to pick up our thirteen horses, which had wintered over in the better weather on the Flathead Reservation. The horses were used for dude rides along the east shore of the lake. Sometimes, Dad would use The Ranger to haul tents and camping gear to the head of the lake, and set up for the tourists to ride in by horseback to spend several days. A helper would take the horses back to the barn while the campers enjoyed several nights under the stars, congregating every night around the campfire. He’d pick them up in The Ranger and bring them back, sunburned, tired and happy.