August 5, 2012

Trip harmonizes music and nature


---- — Let’s face facts: Camping is fun. 

Of course, we don’t rough it like we used to with leaky tents and pop-ups. As much younger parents, we were better equipped physically and emotionally to deal with vicissitudes that came with camping on a shoe string.

As Jack Parr used to say, “I kid you not.” When we piled kids, gear and bikes into our old SUV, it was like packing sardines. With a spare tire and duffle bags tied on top and an old Volkswagen seat in the back for extra kids, we were on our way.

When gas was less than a half-dollar per gallon, we sharpened our pencils and kept track of every penny spent to get to our destination. Kaye would then lock that amount in the glove box so we would have enough to drive home. I remember once when we arrived back in Morrisonville with only enough money to buy ice cream. We pulled into our driveway with full stomachs and an empty wallet.

Our recent sojourn to Cole’s Creek near Waddington was more laid back with a 28-foot self-contained camper. 

There was a lot of leisure time for reading, and I kicked back with Stephen’s Kings 2-pound tome “11/12/63.” One reviewer called it a “magnum opus.” I’ve joined countless others who are fascinated by the concept of time travel and have written about it myself. I found the latest King offering almost as stimulating as his classic “The Stand.” With my stack of books, I was in literary heaven.

I was engrossed in reading at our campsite when our daughter-in-law, Judy Baker, called me on the phone and urged us to join her at the pavilion in the park. She found herself the sole audience member at a one-man impromptu violin concert and wanted to share the enjoyment. Kaye and I donned our flip-flops and walked hand-in-hand to join Judy at her picnic-table seat.

We were far from disappointed. There on the cement patio was a man wearing no shoes, bathing trunks and a white T-shirt. His “relaxed” appearance belied the sound coming from his violin. On a nearby picnic table was a small electronic device holding a large number of fully orchestrated songs, amplified beautifully through another box and accompanied by this lovely violin. Some were spiritual. Others were light classics and traditional melodies. All were beautiful.

I knew instantly that this man had a true artist’s touch. When he was finished, I approached and introduced myself. 

“Hi, I’m Wil,” he responded. 

“Not good enough,” I laughed. 

I finally prompted him to convince me that he was much more than a gypsy musician who plays on street corners for donations. His full name is Dr. Wilton Remigio. He is a professor and research scientist at Clarkson University in nearby Potsdam.

I asked if he had played violin all his life. 

“No,” he answered. “Only since age 11.” 

He has played professionally for some years but said he gets the most enjoyment out of performing for small audiences such as ours or for the birds and animals that might be present when he decides to put bow to string in some natural setting. He also plays in churches and various other venues. His music itself has a profound message, and we were still absorbing it the next morning as we reflected at the breakfast table. In a moving way, it became married to the music of the spheres.

I urged him to contact the National Park Service and offer to play at parks around the country during the summer. A later email revealed he had already made that contact. Dr. Wil said he envisions a world that will be filled with music someday. He added that nature helps him to improve his style and his repertoire.

Family and friends made our camping trip all the better, and new friend, Dr. Wil, was the frosting on the cake. He was truly an angel in swim trunks.

And how is your summer? Enjoy what is left of it. Have a great day and please, drive carefully.

Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the “Our Little Corner” television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at