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Oh Erik Satie! You creator of Ambient Music! Aptly named Furniture music in the late 19th century, now known as “Muzak.” Elevator music, unavoidable and often mundane. Filling deafening gaps between verbal exchanges at awkward cocktail parties amidst the tinkling of wine glasses and the smell of expensive perfume. Oh, Satie! Your genius for music and theatre is unquestioned, and you lived a robust life rich with good friends and fine wine. Interesting company you kept, indeed: Debussy and Ravel, to name a few, who gave us Clair de Lune, Pelléas et Mélisande and Bolero. And the playwright, Jean Cocteau, to whom you confided one day… “I want to write a play for dogs, and I already have my set design. The curtain rises on a bone.” Ah, Erik Satie!
What are the details of such a play? The plot? The dialogue? The characters?
I think I know. No. I’m sure I know. Satie’s imagined play is set in the music studio in a humble home and the characters are two miserly mutts who have nothing much to do on a rainy afternoon when the fall leaves are blowing and the clouds are thick. One mutt has the Satie bone in a death grip. She is the resident dog, strong and sure. Dignified and deeply devoted to truth. She’s the leader. The governess. The stern “Auntie.” A bit of a diva. And, for the most part, she calls the shots with a calm and benevolent paw. The other, equally endowed with crazy, mixed up genetics, is a relative newcomer. He’s the temporary one. The foster dog. Only 12 weeks in residence here at the home for wayward dogs, he’s seemingly new to most all of this. And he wants that Satie bone. Badly. Very Badly. But he has much to learn about patience, coping with frustration and the general order of things.
And the sounds of Satie’s 3rd Sarabande provide a musical back drop for the unfolding plot, inexpertly played on a poorly tuned piano by the stage manager. Heavy chords amidst delicate descending triplets add drama and nuance to the growly conversation as “who gets the bone” is decided. Pearly white teeth are bared, along with puppy pleadings and deep questioning bellows and ggggrrrrumps, and grumbles and howls.
The music doesn’t end. Nor does the discourse between the dogs. Not by a long shot. Dogs have been communicating with each other like this for millions of years. Their language is expressive and meaningful. Like the Satie 3rd Sarabande. Not one bit of emotion is spared. Long crescendos. Sweet and sometimes langourous phrases.
“Dammit!” says the stage manager as she misses one note after another in those thick Major 9 chords. “Get it right, will you?” she demands of herself. Satie and the dogs, one influencing the other. And the coveted bone. The conversation continues for as long as the 3rd Sarabande remains. The resident dog is well established. She’s the governess of the house… she’s the “decider.” The foster dog, the puppy: a bit shaky and timid, but gaining in confidence, won’t challenge her, though the heavy chords of the 3rd Sarabande seem to provide him with some extraordinary incentive to press her. To get his way.
“Dammit! Give me that bone!” pleads the foster dog. After all, Satie’s bone is HIS bone, and he knows it. The stage manager purchased it weeks ago just for him! Isn’t this HIS play? Isn’t HE central to the plot? Well, yes. And no. He’ll learn that life, as comfortable and wonderful as it is, is not all about him. He’ll learn that today, while the stage manager works diligently on the 3rd Sarabande. It’s not easy. He’ll learn patience and respect. Self control and endurance. Order and … hierarchy. Who gets what and when. For now HIS bone no longer belongs to him. He’ll have to wait.
And, he does. He settles into a comfortable position only a few feet away from the governess. She gnaws the bone with joy.
Until it is gone.
He hears the final cadence of the 3rd Sarabande. The piece is finished. The bone is finished. And so is Satie’s play.
Life for Aaron Foster is a rich tapestry of experiences and opportunities for daily growth. Our leisurely jaunts in the moose filled woods and fields around Thurston Pond are special times for inquiring about the habits of field mice and hairy-tailed moles. The tall yellowing grasses continue to provide a tasty treat. He loves splashing around in pond water and can sniff out most any green frog who happens to be lurking in the lily pads. We’re all enjoying this beautiful beginning of fall in New Hampshire.
And, we’re developing a social network. Visitors! Here’s a video of my son, Brad and his beloved, Jen, getting to know Aaron Foster on a new level…