A reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle is returning to Montana in a blizzard out of Salt Lake City, and more turbulence over mountains of the West, to be at the bedside of her beloved grandmother, Rebecca, who is dying. Valerie (Val) Dorothy DLacey, relying on little sleeper pills, as she calls them, to get her through her depression, and double whiskies with beer to sustain her throughout the ordeal of the flight, threads her way into the Logan Airfield terminal in Billings, Montana. She stumbles to a bar where she waits for her mischievous childhood friend, Tomas Damon. He will take her to see her grandmother, Rebecca Egan, who is at deaths door. Val, we discover, is three-months pregnant with her married lovers child. Tomas Damon, her friend since their high school days, brings her up-to-date on events in the town of Plains where they grew up together. He mentions the Spring Tender, a mythical character who chooses likable people to succeed in Montana, while gravely informing her that her grandmother, Rebecca, is not going to live. He drives her to see her grandmother, with the hope that she will arrive in time. Vals grandmother is in a coma and dies. A very sad Val returns to San Francisco - but with the deed to her grandmothers ranch and a journal/story that her grandmother wrote for her. Her grandmothers story and deep love for Montana give Val something that only a Spring Tender could have imagined. Clear, flowing water for her parched spirit. The Spring Tender is an unusual love story, flowing from the western prairie where the author, born in 1916, received her love for Montana from her own parents who homesteaded on that prairie, where she also grew up.