Noun 1. a musical instrument of the viol family Simple enough. It sleeps in its box the way a fox might sleep in a hole. 2. violin Not exactly. A fiddle isn’t frills or trills or college educations. It knows in different ways. It knows by feel, by ear, by the way uncles fling chords across a room. It’s stuffed to bursting with history, with tunes that mean my family takes to this town like birds to a tree. A lonely road can still be a happy one. Those kinds of things. Humble things. Real things. Verb (without object) 3. to play on the fiddle It’s about location. You want a country porch or an old playhouse or a dock, a stump, or a stone. You set out there a while and bring the box to your chin. It should be white and dusty with tunes. When you saw away, little bits should smoke up into the air. 4. to make trifling or fussing movements with the hands (often followedby with) Like the life we’re trying to catch is a wild animal. Might get away. Might holler. Unless we can pin it first. 5. to waste time; trifle; dally (often followed by around) This involves a fair bit of idleness, the kind businessfolk can’t understand. You see, waste isn’t waste when it’s filled with talking, laughing, whiskey, and the like. That’s where living actually happens. Not in ledgerbooks or school. It’s when you open your eyes and stare back at the world waiting for what stares back. Verb (with object) 6. to play (a tune) on a fiddle It’s just like a story. Each time you tell it it grows. A six-foot bear becomes an eight-foot bear. A stranger comes around and we feast for days. Blizzards last for weeks. Brooks become streams become rivers become water and sound flowing through the street, through town, through the whole country, making a history, and filling listeners with something more than music, something live, something more than this humming and sawing.