Mae Tuck goes into the woods in Treegap in order to meet her sons, Jesse and Miles. Mae makes this journey once every ten years in the first week of August, which is the time of the year with "strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after." Despite her husband's protestations that she should not go, Mae assures him:
I'll ride in at sunset, just to the wood. I won't go into the village. But, even if someone did see me, they won't remember. They never did before, now, did they?
Although the reader does not know it yet, Mae Tuck and the rest of her family have accidentally achieved immortality by drinking from a spring in the woods bordering Treetop; the Tucks have remained unchanged for eighty-seven years. As we will later discover, there is also an element of ritual to this journey. Not only do the boys return home to meet with their mother every ten years, but they happen to do so at the spring that gave them everlasting life, drinking symbolically from the water once again upon their arrival. Mae describes this as follows:
Tuck and me, we got each other... and that's a lot. The boys, now, they go their separate ways. They're different, don't always get on too good. But they come home whenever the spirit moves, and every ten years, first week of August, they meet at the spring and come home together so's we can be a family again for a little while... One way or another, it all works out. Life's got to be lived, no matter how long or short... You got to take what comes. We just go along, like everybody else, one day at a time.