Throughout E. B. White's return to the lake in Maine he visited as a child, he experiences and re-experiences the visit as both a child and as a father. At first, he feels that the lake is the same as what it has always been, but he feels that his son, who is busy doing the things kids do, has become E. B. White. In return, E. B. White feels that he has become his father.
During each experience, E. B. White notes the way in which the lake and its environs are similar to what they once were and the ways in which time has changed them. For example, when he is walking across the field, which remains the same, he notes that the third track, where the horses once walked, is gone, and there are only the two tracks for cars. At the end of the story, his son decides to jump into the cold lake during the rainstorm and pulls on his cold bathing suit, but E. B. White has no intention of doing so. At this moment, E. B. White feels a chill of death, as he is aware that he is no longer experiencing the lake as he did when he was a child. Instead, this experience has passed entirely to his son, and E. B. White feels intensely the passage of time and of impending death.