The narrator explains that Winnie has grown up in a house that's orderly and clean. Winnie's mother and Granny are always cleaning, and they're training Winnie to live the same way. Because of this, the Tucks' house is a bit of a shock for her. There's dust, cobwebs, and a mouse that lives happily in a drawer in the table. Dishes are stacked haphazardly, and things are piled everywhere. Angus's forgotten shotgun sits in a corner. In the parlor, there's a sofa and some tables, and there's lots of old soot in the fireplace. There's a bedroom with a rickety bed and a loft where Jesse and Miles sleep when they're home.
The shock that Winnie feels at seeing how the Tucks live jumpstarts another aspect of her coming of age: realizing that not everyone lives the same way she does, and understanding that people who live differently can do so happily. This in turn helps her humanize others and see other people as potential friends or, at the very least, other human beings worthy of respect and kindness.
Though Mae says after giving Winnie the tour that this is all, Winnie sees so much more. She notices bits of Mae's sewing projects everywhere, while there are pins and needles stuck in the arms of the chairs. Angus carves toys and bowls out of wood, so there are wood shavings and toy parts everywhere. The bright light from the windows spotlights bowls of daisies and the sound of the wildlife that lives in and around the pond filters through as well. Winnie is amazed that people live like this, but she finds it charming and comfortable. She wonders to herself if the Tucks think they have forever to clean up, but then considers that maybe they just don't care about the mess.
Winnie's ability to understand that the "mess" she sees is actually a sign of life shows that she's learning quickly how to humanize people who seem different from herself. These signs of life are proof that Mae and Angus are making a mark on the world by creating objects. Winnie’s realization that the Tucks might not care about the mess shows that she's in a place to make these leaps and embrace the fact that not everyone lives the clean and orderly life that she does.
In the loft, Mae explains that Jesse and Miles aren't home much. Winnie asks what they do when they're gone, and Mae says they get jobs. Miles can do carpentry and blacksmithing, while Jesse is so young that he can't settle. Mae laughs, and then says that he just does whatever he feels like at any given moment. She sighs and says that none of them can stay in one place for too long, as people start to wonder. Mae explains that she and Angus have been in this house for twenty years and they'll need to move soon.
Mae's description of Jesse, in particular that he can't settle, suggests that despite Jesse being more than 100 years old, he's very much an eternal 17-year-old. Like any normal 17-year-old, he's interested in experimenting and finding his place in the world--but because he'll never be any older than 17n, he’ll never truly figure out where he fits.
Winnie thinks that moving all the time and not having close friends sounds sad, and she tells Mae this. Mae says that she and Angus have each other, though she notes that Jesse and Miles struggle. Every ten years, they meet at the spring and come home together so they can all be a family again. Mae folds her arms and says, mostly to herself, that life has to be lived and they have to take what comes along. She says that most of the time, she even forgets what happened and usually doesn't feel any different, but sometimes she does wonder why it happened to them. Mae can't decide if it's a blessing or a curse, or what they did to deserve it either way. Jesse and Miles interrupt as they climb up to the loft, soaking wet and still in their clothes.
Winnie's comment that the Tucks' way of life sounds sad shows that though she appears to be a lonely child, she does understand that friendship and connections are very important if a person wants to be happy in the world. In her understanding, it's taking away from the quality of Mae and Angus's life that they're not able to make friends and form connections with people, which helps Winnie begin to piece together what she thinks is important in her own life.