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.
“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.”
— PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“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.”
“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
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, where she directs PLAYA’s residency program for artists, writers, and scientists.
"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."
--THE WALL STREET JOURNAL