The Sand Sheet

The Sand Sheet

The Sand Sheet

The Sand Sheet


More than two million acres of sand, born and blown from an ancient sea beginning about ten thousand years ago, stretch across eight counties in deep South Texas. Known as the Coastal Sand Plain, the Texas Coastal Sand Sheet, or just the Sand Sheet, it is a region of few people, little rainfall, and no water. Among the dunes and dry, brown flats, only the hardiest shrubs and grasses provide habitat for the coyotes, quail, and rattlesnakes that live here.

Arturo Longoria, whose cabin sits amid the sand scrub and desert motts of granjeno, brasil, and mesquite, knows this land intimately. A student of bushcraft and natural history, Longoria found refuge in this remote and hostile country as he recovered from a rare illness. He weaves a story of beauty and survival in a land where the vastness of Texas' storied ranches and rich oil fields serves as the backdrop for a steady migration of long distance "travelers," who cross over the border and into el desierto at great peril.

This book is about a harsh and dangerous landscape that has nonetheless given sustenance and solace to a writer for whom the Sand Sheet became both his home and his inspiration.


Arturo Longoria’s time-tempered wisdom makes this book a joy to read and a valued set of lessons. the topics range from how to make a life in near-uninhabitable places to encounters with “long distance travelers” (ordinary desperate folks traversing la frontera and modern desperados alike). Illumination arises from Longoria’s familiarity with and understanding of the flora and fauna of this little-known but fascinating region in South Texas, his deep knowledge of the place’s human and natural history, his experience of the wild, his sensitivity to finding just the right language (honed in the writing of several books and kept up in his outstanding blog “Woods Roamer”), the honest love of the land and the virtually jealous protectiveness he feels toward his place on the earth, and his skill as storyteller. the rare combination of these elements generates the kind of writing and the human spirit that we celebrate in the Seventh Generation series. Add the intensity that comes from surviving a near-fatal illness and the remarkable woodcraft and skills related to survival and sustenance in an endangered and endangering land, and the fit for the series is perfect. More important, it’s the kind of book that demands respect—for the author certainly, but also for the land and the values the author represents so effectively. When he tells the oil drillers in one episode of the story, “We will be respected,” the reader feels the heroism of the individual and the people who stand with him on the land they love.

Just a word on what I mean by tempered wisdom: Longoria writes so beautifully of what it means to be native in a place of constant change. Some introduced species, such as the reeds that came with the Spanish colonialists and proved so useful to the native peoples, are as much gifts as they are intrusions on . . .

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