Doug Carter ’12
We are linked through the force of water. Sustained and nourished by it, we carry it, and it carries us. There were many times during my nine years in Chestertown when I looked to the river for advice, pausing during a morning stroll at the foot of High Street, occasionally paddling in a canoe, riding my bike or driving out to Cliffs City. Whenever I found myself responding to the river’s call, what I discovered was reflection, both of the world around me and of my inner world.
It was no accident that the interest in the outdoors I cultivated at Washington College led me to teach at both the Sassafras Environmental Education Center and Echo Hill Outdoor School. During my time at the latter, I had the privilege of working on the skipjack Elsworth with captain Andy McCown during a Chesapeake Heritage Initiative trip. The night of my birthday, we noticed rare bioluminescent activity from dinoflagellates in the water as a seemingly glowing crab pulsed by. I stood on deck, lulled by the river’s water lapping at the hull, and gazed at the spray of stars reflected on the surface. Having realized that all life is connected through both water and light, I felt compelled to pursue a career where I could help others see the light reflected in their own rivers.
Not much more than a year later, my journey flowed south to western North Carolina, where I now guide backpacking and canoeing expeditions for therapeutic programs treating addiction. As we plunge our hiking boots into creeks that feed the French Broad or dip our paddles into Lake Fontana’s surface, I think of all the molecules of water in the Chester – connected, constantly arriving, flowing, departing – conveying each of us who knows the river’s secrets into the next mystery of who we are.