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The Oasis This Time by Rebecca Lawton front cover
THE OASIS THIS TIME: Living and Dying with Water in the West

by Rebecca Lawton





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 Lawton'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.


REBECCA LAWTON is a Western author, fluvial geologist, and former Colorado River guide. Her books about water and river subcultures include Reading Water: Lessons from the River (San Francisco Chronicle Bay Area Bestseller and ForeWord Nature Book of the Year Finalist). Her pieces for general audiences have been published in Aeon, Audubon, Brevity, Hakai, Orion, Shenandoah, Sierra, Undark, and many other journals. Her creative writing honors include a 2014/15 Fulbright Scholarship, the 2006 (inaugural) Ellen Meloy Fund Award for Desert Writers, the 2015 (inaugural) Waterston Desert Writing Prize, a 2014 WILLA award for original softcover fiction, Pushcart Prize
nominations in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and residencies at Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers, The Island Institute, and PLAYA. She lives at the
Cascade Mountain-Great Basin interface in Summer Lake, Oregon.

Author Website

March 2019 | Nonfiction | $18.95 | 978-1-937226-93-0 | 196 pp 

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“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 powerful call for smarter water policy.”


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.”

“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.”

“A heartfelt missive for all of us to come to terms with the power of water.”


 “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

“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.”


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.”


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.”


author of Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming and Going and The Luckiest Scar on Earth

"Lawton weaves through images of precariousness and vulnerability with the thematic heft of metaphor."



Nautilus Book Award Winner, Silver, Ecology & Environment

Oregon Book Award Finalist, Creative Nonfiction

Foreword INDIE Book Award Finalist, Ecology & Environment


Cover photo by Guy Tal

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