Quarantining and social distancing provide the perfect opportunity to make your way through the stack of unread books you’ve been accumulating. Since I already made it through Celeste Ng’s 2017 best-seller Little Fires Everywhere in time for the Hulu miniseries premiere, I’m buckling down with a book I picked up months ago at the Texas Book Festival—Copper Stain: ASARCO’s Legacy in El Paso. Written by Elaine Hampton, a former professor at UT El Paso, and Cynthia Ontiveros, a science teacher in El Paso ISD, it tells the story of how one community organized around an environmental injustice to fight against a smelting company that damaged hundreds of workers’ health in the name of economic progress. Admittedly, it might seem like I’m trading reading about one type of death and destruction for another. (Although, full disclosure, it’s not the most depressing book I’ve accumulated over a few years of climate and environmental justice reporting.) While it feels like things are as bad as they’ll ever get, as many of us experience disruptions to our day-to-day lives that seemed unthinkable two weeks ago, this book is already reminding me that in some places, and for some people, “normal” has always been fraught.
—Amal Ahmed, assistant editor
Antonelli’s Cheese Shop
In a world of chaos and uncertainty, Antonelli’s Cheese Shop in Austin provides coziness and unity—and the best cheese in Central Texas. After traveling the world, consulting with top cheese affineurs, and doing the difficult job of eating thousands of different cheeses, John and Kendal Antonelli took a leap of faith and opened their cheese shop in 2010. Even with the extensive selection of cheeses, the cheesemongers at Antonelli’s make it easy to make the right choice for the right occasion. They know these products inside out, and I’ve always felt welcomed there no matter my level of knowledge. Across the street from the unique shop is the company’s Cheese House, where they host a range of classes and events. These days Antonelli’s is offering digital classes on Facebook Live, where customers can experience the joys of cheese at home, and also pick up their cheese plates via curbside service.
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Cedar Ridge Preserve
Hidden in the outskirts of Dallas County, the Cedar Ridge Preserve is a scenic six-hundred-acre recreational area that houses hilly hiking trails, a bird blind and butterfly garden, and an education center for visitors. Located southwest of downtown Dallas, the preserve is the ideal destination for Dallas city folks to leave the busy city life without having to make a long trip, and it’s spacious enough to responsibly enjoy with social distancing protocols.
The preserve opens at 6:30 a.m. from Tuesday to Sunday, allowing early birds like myself to jump-start the day with panoramic views and plenty of challenging running trails. My favorite time to visit is during the late spring or early summer, and I especially love the Cattail Pond Trail. It takes you by an adorable small pond that glimmers especially brightly close to sunrise. When you visit, pack plenty of water and plan for a lot of fun.
—Kathia Ramirez, art assistant
If you could use a break from the news or are bored while social distancing, find respite in learning something new. You could try your hand at a challenging recipe, maybe take up a new hobby, or turn to TikTok for countless dances to learn. A recent dance challenge that has gone viral is one that’s set to Megan Thee Stallion’s song “Savage,” from her new EP Suga. The videos have gained the approval of the Houston rapper, who has been reposting them on her Instagram, and even showed off her own take. If you have some time to kill, this is a fun dance to learn and an excuse to listen to one of the best tracks on Suga on repeat. If you’re not up for it, you can at least find some joy in watching other people’s attempts.
—Arielle Avila, editorial assistant