I am not sure that anyone acknowledges tears of recognition – tears of certainty – but I certainly do.

My elation at being able to purchase the orange booklet I’d been taking notes from at the library for a mere $20 plus tax, (the Portrait of a Colonial Businesswoman one by Henry Cassidy) was offset by seeing the ‘map’ Evelyn had as soon as she entered the Homestead. It was of the location OF the cemetery, not where Roger is buried IN it.

And I’d bought flowers and everything.

I tagged along on one of the house tours and was astonished and delighted to go up the stairs from the kitchen to the old upstairs. There WAS Madam Brett’s saddle (in a totally climate uncontrolled, very HOT room); and in what they now call the sewing room were a number of spinning wheels and there, on a wicker dress form, was The Flaming Red Cape.  No one knows for sure that Catharyna actually DID tear about on horseback wearing THIS Flaming Red Cape, but the sign on the cape said that it ‘belonged’ to a grand daughter. The dates given said the grand daughter was born in 1765, the year AFTER Madam Brett died, but that it may have been passed down to her. What was notable was that it was made ENTIRELY on this property – sheep to fleece to yarn, to dying, to weaving, to the very thread. How beautifully the color has held up. The hood is lined with shredding satin, probably, but the rest was entirely unlined, unfaced and minutely and flawlessly whip-stitched for every inch of the edge. I simply HAD to touch it and found it INSANELY scratchy! But the mere sight of this was incredibly exciting. So too was being told that a few of the cupboards in the old kitchen actually WERE hers. Again, I needed so much to TOUCH the well-worn places that centuries of touches had worn down so. I know there are seven generations to be honored here, and that a good number of the objects are not ‘native’ to the Homestead at all – just donated by other families to add to the museum. But all I was interested in at the moment was HER.

Again, as has happened already so often, a woman appears, quite by chance. She just randomly came for the Sunday tour, but it JUST so happens that she owns the old brick house directly across the road from this old burial ground I’ve been visiting. She runs home and comes back with copies of newspaper letters to the editor adding what locals seem to ‘know’ about that cemetery (and also expressing their dismay that is is so uncared for). These are from 1997, and one is SO wrong that it speaks of a house that madam Brett built for her DAUGHTER (when we know she never had any girls at all). It may merely be a typo, having neglected to say GRAND daughter.

But one line strikes me regarding Roger’s death:

“His remains were found after several days and carried by boat up the creek to the family burial ground.” – what struck me at the moment was Catharyna suffering so from the HOPE that the River might NOT have taken him – that he might still be alive and then to find him agonizing DAYS later. This is truly heart-shattering.

So, disappointed  and frustrated again, I leave, busy convincing myself that it doesn’t really matter if I can be sure of the exact SPOT where Roger’s remains lie beneath the ground. It is enough to know that the act of Laying Him To Rest happened THERE. I will bring my roses to that place, it’s enough.

And so over I go, again in long pants and high red rubber boots against the poison ivy with my two lavender roses from which I have removed all the 21st century wrapping and water tubes.

I wade once again into the woods and just go up to the LEAST marked of the stones that have had wooden crosses added to them. It doesn’t matter if this is Roger’s STONE. As I stand there looking down at the roses, I KNOW I’m in the right spot, at least ON the right piece of land, and that IS enough.


I don’t stay long for GLARING at the caricature of suburbia whose lawn machinery RACKET is grating on my nerves a few houses down. Armed with the property map, I try to figure the actual boundaries of this burial ground, am pleased to see good, healthy Motherwort plants growing along the road’s edge, but am so distressed at the broken bottles, the shrub branches and the chunks of blacktop that have been thrown here. Evelyn so bemoaned just NO FUNDS to buy fencing for this place. I simply can’t imagine that a post and chain fence could be so very expensive.

It all seems pretty anti-climactic, I just needed to do this for me (and I guess for THEM) and I go back to my car, hoping to connect eventually with this David Miller that Evelyn mentioned who has been working on this place.

The road that curves around this burial place splits at a fork. Twice now, I have taken the lower fork, a dreary road that parallels the train track, beyond which lie dead and crumbling factory buildings and too many cats. Today, even though it sports a sign that says NO OUTLET, I take the OTHER fork. I go down a hill and around a small curve and am met with a view of the Hudson that simply makes me burst into tears – just stop the car and cry. I KNOW what I am looking at. I KNOW this is the right place. “They brought his body up by boat….” Of COURSE they did. Right from HERE.

What I’m not prepared for is the fact that I cannot seem to STOP crying. I drive slowly through small populated streets with my hand over my mouth so perhaps no one will notice. They’re not sad tears, not even happy tears. That’s all I can call them – tears of recognition.

But now I REALLY need to be alone. I REALLY need to go back to my bench by the River and write. I managed to dash back to the house and change out of my boots and grab my new book and clipboard and water bottle and zip off to the park undetected. I’m not ready to talk to anyone just now. Knowing it’s always cooler by the River, I grab my jacket, but once I get there, I leave it behind as the car has warmed a lot.

At first I’m unhappy that the end bench is occupied and the side bench is in the shade just now, but within a few minutes I realize the end bench is facing due West and the sun is absolutely blinding on the water. I begin to scribble furiously, oblivious to all the activity around me, although I’m a little surprised that there are so many people here at dinnertime.

The RiverWind turns rather suddenly cold and blustery. I feel pretty foolish not to have KNOWN that it would at this time of day. As I’m writing, I’m thinking about how one of the first things I puzzled about was that the Brett Homestead was not ON the River. didn’t even have a VIEW of it. They probably knew more than I do when they chose the location for the house. This River can get suddenly cold and mean.

I also thought back to the conversation I had with the florist in Pawling when I bought the roses on Saturday about the Stone Dwellings. He told me how the Celts were the ones given credit for having brought stone-cutting and vibrational location skills to other civilizations, and how the underground stone dwellings all over Putnam and Dutchess counties are very like ones found in the MOST ancient parts of Europe and actually, all over the world. I remembered reading about how Catharyna’s father in some references is identified as a Walloon, in others, a Hugenot. But if her father was indeed a Walloon, they did live below ground when they first got here a mere handful of years after the Pilgrims did. I found myself wondering if Catharyna had inherited any of her father’s innate abilities to find vibrationary locations. It is noted that she kept the mineral rights to all the land she sold, where would she ever have gotten THAT idea?

But mostly, at this point, I found myself getting truly cold and clutching my clipboard against this new RiverWind that had suddenly changed the color of the water, the texture of the water, the MOVEMENT of the water and was intent on driving me away. The River definitely calls the shots. That’s something ELSE I’m sure of.

When I do return home at the end of the day, all chilled and tired, the small boy who lives in the same house pops over the fence of the deck and asks in all seriousness…..“LadyB, did you FIND Roger?”