I don’t understand a word of that sentence. The earth tilts on its axis when Ken says those words, but I don’t yet know it. My life will never be the same, but I don’t know it.
It is July 4, 2005, and the top of my head might blow off. It has only been seven weeks since the deputy sheriff showed up on my doorstep, and we are now in the middle of a hopeless legal muddle about T.C. and living with turmoil and anxiety. We have found an attorney to represent us and our partners and are plodding forward on the lawsuit, digging through files to answer interrogatories by day, and going to bed with white knuckles at night.
We decide to spend the 4th of July in Denver, and we attend the picnic sponsored by our church. Ken and Sharon host the picnic on their spacious horse property in northwest Arvada. Stan and I sit on a blanket beneath a tree, chatting with friends. I put myself on social auto-pilot, smiling, nodding, and joking while wondering if I’m the only one who feels the world may end soon.
Ken strolls by, stops, and asks how our development is coming along. He is kind and interested. Stan tells him our woes about the lawsuit. Ken listens and asks good, probing questions. Then he says, “You should put the land in conservation easements.” We stare at him. Even Stan, who is an attorney, doesn’t know what a conservation easement is. “You get to keep the land and use it. This piece that we’re on right now is in a conservation easement. I can’t explain it very well. It’s complicated. Just call my attorney. He lives right there….” Ken points to a large home surrounded by luxurious horse property. He pulls a tiny notebook and pen from his pocket and scribbles his attorney’s name: Todd. “Really. You need to talk to Todd. We’re so happy we did it – best decision we ever made,” Ken says.
On our way home I ask Stan, “What is a conservation easement?”
“I’m not really sure,” he says. “But it won’t hurt to find out.” © Sharon Cairns Mann