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

Winner, 2015 Waterston Desert Writing Prize
Winner, 2015 Waterston Desert Writing Prize
Winner, 2019 Nautilus Book Award
Finalist, 2020 Oregon Book Award
Finalist, 2019 Foreword INDIE


"The problem of dominion that has always complicated humanity's relationship with wild places is at the center of Rebecca Lawton's essay collection…her expertise is apparent, as is her enthusiasm."

"A book of juxtapositions—ruin and growth, water and desolation. Lawton's writing flows through wars and watering places, her prose precise and sometimes mystic."
CRAIG CHILDS, author of Atlas of a Lost World

Water has been a medium we've tamed through centuries, but is seen in these fifteen essays for what it is: the most critical fluid on the planet—savior, benefactor, and Holy Grail. The Oasis This Time: Living and Dying with Water in the West follows species both human and wild to their watery roots in warming deserts, near rising Pacific tides, on endangered, tapped-out rivers, and in greening urban ecosystems.

Lawton explores human attitudes toward water in the West, from Twentynine Palms, California, to Sitka, Alaska. In the stories within The Oasis This Time, we learn how to evolve toward a sustainable and even spiritual connection to water.


"A powerful call for smarter water policy."

"Rebecca Lawton's powerful and poetic The Oasis This Time celebrates water as a precious natural resource. The collection is as diverse as it is illuminating. Each essay addresses a unique topic, but all are anchored by keen observations of the environment and musings on alternative solutions to pressing environmental problems."

"Geologist Lawton offers fifteen essays about wildness and water, and how together they form a life-giving oasis needed by all humankind…these essays conjure up a heartfelt missive for all of us to come to terms with the power of water."

"Part memoir, part conservation treatise, and part history lesson…Lawton's focus is on how human lives are urgently shaped by their connection to water."

“Lawton, a fluvial geologist and former Colorado River guide, shares her love and fears for the endangered Western resource—water—in these smart, fierce essays.”
ROB SPILLMAN, Judge of 2020 Oregon Book Awards

"A collection of strong, smart, wise, and deeply knowledgeable essays on water in the West, what it means and has meant to the author throughout her life, and what it means to all of us who depend on nature—the biggest oasis of all—for our lives. I came away from this book better informed, deeply touched, and quietly recommitted to the work of living more gently in our fragile world."
JULIA WHITTY, author of A Tortoise For The Queen Of Tonga and The Fragile Edge

"I opened The Oasis This Time assuming I was going to read about water. But what I read about instead is thirst. In straightforward, sometimes rascally prose, Lawton digs into all the ways in which we want to be satiated. Our thirst for adventure, for love, for power and control, for ambitious development with an often-warped sense of 'progress.' Hers is a wake-up call, shaped by Lawton's deep knowledge and love of place, and mostly her commitment to waterways, streams and creeks and rivers and oceans."
DEBRA GWARTNEY, author of I'm A Stranger Here Myself

“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 Amon Parisman series

“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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