Giving Thanks for that Little Octopus in the Kitchen

This morning my running friend Sue was sick, and so I took to the street by myself.  It’s a cool but not cold, bright but not sunny, damp but not raining, perfect Thanksgiving morning to run.  I took my usual route and ran 6 miles in 50 minutes, a surprise because yesterday I ran 7.3 in 61.  I was expecting to be tired, and for this morning to be harder.  It seems the more I run, the easier it gets and the better I feel.

The roads were car-quiet, but plenty of folks were out running and walking their dogs.  I cheerfully greeted each and every runner, walker, dog walker, and newspaper gatherer with a bright “Happy Thanksgiving”, and in between people, I tried to focus and meditate on all the reasons I have to be thankful.  Here’s a partial list:  my husband, my children (and how good they have always been!), my parents, my sister and her family, my mother-in-law, my dear friends, my health, home by the sea, the fact that I can run at all, never mind the whopping 9 miles two weeks ago!!!, and life just as it is- joyous, miserable, scary, easy, hard, challenging, bountiful, scant— all of it.  I topped the final hill and walked for a couple of minutes, catching my breath and thinking about what I had to cook and pack before leaving for a family dinner at my sister’s house.  Hot, sweaty, thirsty, I burst in the front door and went right to the kitchen.

On the counter, on a wooden cutting board, lay a small— by that I mean maybe a 12 inch tentacle spread— cooked octopus.  Mmmm hmmm.  That’s right.  The smell, well, let’s just say low, low tide is the best I can do to describe that.  I am an adventurous eater, especially when it comes to fishes and sea creatures.  I have tried all our local sushi chef has to offer.  Let me be really honest and say whole octopus does not lo0k anything like that slender slice of purplish flesh gently laid across a ball of sticky rice.  And perhaps at room temperature the smell is a bit more subtle…  I inhaled deeply through my mouth and grabbed my water bottle, then took myself out the back door for a good long stretch and some fresh air.

You are looking for the back story, aren’t you?  Here it is.  My non-meat-eating teenager asked a few weeks ago if she could prepare her own entree to bring on Thanksgiving.  I said of course she could.  After all, I was a vegetarian for years and understand what it’s like to sit down to a meal drenched in animal fat, or laced with animal flesh, be hungry, and see nothing I can put in my mouth and enjoy.  Yesterday I took the teenager to the fish market, then the grocery store, and helped her select her meal for today.  I knew it was octopus.  I did.  And I knew she would cook it at home and bring it with us today; however, I did not expect to meet that blanched little purple guy in my kitchen this morning before breakfast.

As for the title of this piece, one thing in particular for which I am grateful is the way my children are comfortable enough with who they are to go ahead and forge their new territories without embarrassment or fear.  While raising them, I have encouraged them to be themselves and not worry about what other people think.  To trust themselves and do what feels right, whether it’s preparing and bringing octopus for Thanksgiving dinner or coming home on weekends from college because they are not ready for parties and are doing their best to stay safe.  So, yes, I am thankful, especially, for that little octopus in the kitchen…

I invite you to use the comment section of this post to write something for which you are thankful today.  Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S.  I am not posting the octopus recipe unless someone asks for it…

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2 Comments on “Giving Thanks for that Little Octopus in the Kitchen”

  1. Pat Says:

    Despite everything that has happened this year..I am thankful for the love and support of my friends–like Elizabeth

  2. Elizabeth Watson Says:

    For all of life’s blessings, I am thankful: friends, family, etc. I’m thankful also for being born into a society where I am free to achieve, criticize, sing & dance, misbehave, apologize, question authority,express myself, disbelieve, believe, study and try again.


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