The Oasis This Time: Living and Dying with Water in the West

Book Cover: The Oasis This Time: Living and Dying with Water in the West

Water, the most critical fluid on the planet, is seen as savior, benefactor, and Holy Grail in these fifteen essays on natural and faux oases. Fluvial geologist and former Colorado River guide Rebecca Lawton follows species both human and wild to their watery roots--in warming deserts, near rising Pacific tides, on endangered, tapped-out rivers, and in growing urban ecosystems.

Lawton thoroughly and eloquently explores human attitudes toward water in the West, from Twentynine Palms, California, to Sitka, Alaska. A lifelong immersion in all things water forms the author's deep thinking about living with this critical compound and sometimes dying in it, on it, with too much of it, or for lack of it. The Oasis This Time, the inaugural Waterston Desert Writing Prize winner, is a call for us to evolve toward a sustainable and even spiritual connection to water.


“In a parched and burning land, humanity’s crimes against fresh water stand out with increasing starkness as crimes against ourselves. Through deft, spirited storytelling, Rebecca Lawton faces with compassionate courage the painful truths of our defiled and dwindling waterways; The Oasis This Time bids us to nurture the vital wellsprings we have too long taken for granted.”

—SARAH JUNIPER RABKIN, author and illustrator of What I Learned at Bug Camp: Essays on Finding a Home in the World

“Rebecca Lawton brings a poet’s eye to the landscapes she loves, but she is, at heart, a warrior. With every sentence she fiercely defends what remains, totals her losses, and moves on to the next critical confrontation. In the end The Oasis This Time offers us a surprising amount of hope. Hope that we can survive even the worst of mankind’s depredations. Hope that this planet is more resilient than we ever imagined.”

—ANDY WEINBERGER, independent bookseller at Readers’ Books, and author of The Ugly Man Sits in the Garden: Pieces of a Life

“The essays in The Oasis This Time flow like tributaries in a desert river. They meander and eddy and braid. They offer respite and challenge. Rebecca Lawton, as both intimate friend and knowledgeable guide, takes the reader on a dynamic journey from Las Vegas to Alaska, from the Grand Canyon to Ottawa. Her musings on this beloved arid land and its water shimmer with wonder at the life around us—bird, birds, and more birds!—and within us, and burn with urgency.”

—ANA MARIA SPAGNA, author of Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming and Going and The Luckiest Scar on Earth

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