A man gains and loses many things on his journey from birth to death. Toward the end of life, it seems a man loses more than he gains. Retired heavy-equipment operator Cole Emerson has lost his wife, is about to lose his only sister, and is estranged from his daughter. He sells his trailer in Oklahoma and moves into his sister Elsie's house on Hardman Lake, a sprawling man-made impoundment in the lush Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri. Elsie is dying. During the day, Cole cooks, cleans, and tries to keep her comfortable, napping when she naps, adapting his needs to her schedule. At night, he escapes into the dark solitude of Hardman Lake to fish for bass and clear his head, until one night in Turnback Creek he sees a mysterious girl who awakens in him a young man's desires and old buried memories.