When loner Jake Borglund comes to Burns, Oregon, all he wants is a home
for his son and the solitude to do his snowy plover mating behavior studies. He reckons without Delilah Grey, a contradictory, independent woman who is a combination of Earth Mother and Motorcycle Mama. She is totally involved with everyday life in the isolated small town, but she's lonely, since her last child left their big, comfortable house that's now too empty.
So she offers Jake a room and the warmth of family life, something he's never really experienced. Jake's son, Matthew, takes to Delilah immediately. Jake's feelings are more ambivalent--he desires her but he also fears being drawn into the town's social life, for he's never really learned to relate well to people.
Unable to resist the strong sexual pull that proximity brings, they become lovers--for a while. At Christmas, Jake finds himself overwhelmed with family, with too much closeness, with too many demands on his emotional reserves. He retreats from intimacy, nearly breaking Delilah's heart. For several months they co-exist politely, cautiously. Jake departs for the field in the spring, leaving Matthew with her, but taking her heart. Now only time will tell if he can recognize what he walked away from. And only time will show Delilah whether her love for Jake is worth fighting for.