Chapter 1 Summary
The boy, Jody, leans on his hoe and watches his mother tidy their small cabin before he walks away. Soon two dogs, Rip and Perk, run toward him. Old Julia, the other family dog, followed Jody’s father to town. The boy breaks into a run until he reaches his private place near a spring, shared only with the wild animals that come to drink.
He carefully carves a flutter-mill then lies on the creek-bank to watch it work before falling asleep. When he wakes, he revels in the beautiful April day before galloping home. He is ashamed to see his father, Penny Baxter, doing Jody’s chore of chopping wood. Jody is thankful his father understands the call of nature on a young boy because it was once the same for him.
Jody delivers a load of firewood to his mother who is working in the kitchen before rejoining his father. Trixie the cow has been milked and old Caesar has been fed what meager food they have for him; now father and son go in to dinner. Jody is starving and it is a simple but glorious meal; all of them eat until they are full.
Baxter reminds Jody that they are going to hunt down a great old black bear named Old Slewfoot, and Jody teases playfully with his mother. The boy is “addled with April” and has trouble sleeping. For the rest of his life, on an April day like today, Jody will feel the throb of an old wound and be filled with nostalgia for something he cannot quite remember. Finally he sleeps.