The newspaper was lying on the breakfast table last week, and while I ate my egg, I read an article about Mr. Krone, the man who (I think) made my violin, or at least restored it. The front-page picture showed him at a worktable, his big hands running raw wood under a chisel. He wore a green apron and a camera-shy look. In the background was a litter of rags and wood and bottles of polish and a cello neck with a carved chieftain’s head instead of a scroll. The row of windows could have looked out on anyplace, but I happen to know they look out on mostly noplace — woods and hills off an elbow of highway.
I’ve been there, I remember. Dad and Mom took me after dark, after my birthday in February one year. We pulled around a farmhouse to a gravel lot in front of a long outbuilding. I had my violin with me — my beginner one with the fake wood. Dad and Mom were going to let me trade it in for one of Mr. Krone’s.
We went into the dark shop, and it was big (and he was too). His head was bald except for a white patch above each ear. I remember a rosy face and slow, low voice as he let me put a few violins to my neck. He played some for me to hear, bending his big frame over them and working fiddle tunes out of the holes. I picked a red one, made of real wood with rivets.
The newspaper article said Mr. Krone spends 250-300 hours on each instrument, and another picture showed him cradling a stringless violin, glueing the skeleton together. I imagined it was my ruby one that I played in the kitchen last night, along with Trent’s piano.
I used to envy Leanna’s pretty blonde violin, eighty years old from Germany and with a tone as warm as summer wind. But I haven’t been to Germany to see the violin makers in their shops, wearing their green aprons. Mr. Krone wouldn’t remember me, I’m sure, but through his work of restored art, I seem to know him better, and I can still see his shop in the trees off the highway, and the farmhouse standing in the dark, and a lone light on a yellow wall in the kitchen of the violin maker.