Why does Matt's father tell him to cut notches on sticks?

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Matt's father and sibling have to leave him.  His father tells him to make notches on a stick in order to keep track of the length of time they have been apart.  He tells him to mark seven notches on a stick.  If no one has returned by the time...

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Matt's father and sibling have to leave him.  His father tells him to make notches on a stick in order to keep track of the length of time they have been apart.  He tells him to mark seven notches on a stick.  If no one has returned by the time Matt has has notched seven sticks, he is to go looking for them.  In other words, wait for 49 days (7 notches on 7 sticks).

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