of mice and men chapter one
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Steinbeck's introduction is the best answer for this question. The nature of the country surrounding the green pool is summed up in a few paragraphs.
"Afew miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool.
On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and
rocky Gabilan Mountains, but on the valley side the water is lined with trees—
willows fresh and green with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf junctures
the debris of the winter’s flooding; and sycamores with mottled, white, recumbent limbs and branches that arch over the pool. On the sandy bank under
the trees the leaves lie deep and so crisp that a lizard makes a great skittering if
he runs among them. Rabbits come out of the brush to sit on the sand in the
evening, and the damp flats are covered with the night tracks of ‘coons, and
with the spreadpads of dogs from the ranches, and with the split-wedge tracks of deer that come to drink in the dark.
There is a path through the willows and among the sycamores, a path beaten
hard by boys coming down from the ranches to swim in the deep pool, and
beaten hard by tramps who come wearily down from the highway in the evening
to jungle-up near water. In front of the low horizontal limb of a giant sycamore
there is an ash pile made by many fires; the limb is worn smooth by men who
have sat on it."
Of Mice and Men