How long have you been standing there next to me?

"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Like most people I’m often guilty of neglecting to notice something I see so often that I end up pretty much not seeing it at all.  It may not be that I literally don’t see it, but I don’t notice it or appreciate what it has to offer.  For example, I grew up in Denver and the Rocky Mountains making up my western landscape was something I noticed less and less over time.  Until I left.  Now that I’m away do I think about them?  More than you can imagine.  But only during the Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall seasons.

Fueling up before the harvest

Fueling up before the harvest

And so there’s a tie-in here with the latest outing of the Dads’ Bucket List. You see, I consider myself a runner and along one of my regular routes there’s a tree with annoying, low hanging limbs that reach over the sidewalk. I’ve got to duck down to get underneath it, which is fun to do when I’m gasping for air. Well, the day after our crew marched in the Dunwoody 4th of July parade I was contacted by a lady asking if our crew would like to harvest roughly 600 pounds of pears and then deliver them directly to a local organization that helps feed individuals and families in need. She warned me that in order to do it properly we’d have to be willing to climb the tree and also wear proper gear for protection from the cascading pears. Climbing trees and wearing body armor? Count us in.  As it turned out the tree she told me about was the same prominent tree from above that I’m always avoiding. After our conversation, I drove up to see it and lo and behold the thing was loaded with pears. I’d never even noticed.

Cast and crew for our re-enactment of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs"

Cast and crew for our re-enactment of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”

So our crew met up early Saturday morning outside the Dunwoody Farmhouse where the pear tree resided. We had donuts and an assortment of breakfast biscuits courtesy of dad and Waffle House Big Wig, Dave Rickell.  More importantly though the kids were fired up because they got to wear equipment. We had shoulder pads, hard hats, hockey, bike and baseball helmets, and a policeman’s riot shield to boot. Heck, we even had a tiara brought by one unnamed daughter who apparently got the wrong memo and thought it was the Pear Festival and we’d be naming a queen (perhaps a future DBL event?).  The first item of business was to figure out who was going up in the tree.  Of course, we were all willing to get way up there and risk serious bodily injury and months of lost wages. So every dad threw his testosterone into the hopper and we had one of the kids blindly select two. George Markley & Brian Benson came up spades and so we had two finance/accounting guys do what they do best – climb high up trees and then shake the branches to release produce projectiles on the fools willing to stand below.

Kids were geared up and taking action

Kids were geared up and taking action

The Dunwoody Police sent out two of their finest, Sgt. Espinoza and Officer Sommo, to block off part of the intersection and ensure our safety from traffic, but they made no guarantees about safety from pears.  That got wiped out immediately with the first branch shake as pears came hurtling onto us and the tarps we were holding. There was one dad, Brian Williams, who is that all-American dad/dude that coaches football, coaches baseball, smokes a cigar on occasion and likes to talk A LOT of sports.  You know, a real “man’s man”. Well, this “man’s man” took an early pear on his elbow (Yes. The dreaded pear to the elbow) that sent him to the sidelines for the rest of the outing (he claims he had a cortisone shot 3 days earlier on the exact spot sought out by said heat-seeking pear). It was pretty clear that we were in a battle, folks. Winning mostly, but taking some casualties as well. Seeing and hearing dads and kids get plunked on the melon was constant hilarity. On one of the drops, I had my head down and the kid near me was giggling so hard I thought he or she was going to pass out. Once the pears stopped coming and I looked up to see who it was, I was shocked to be looking at Dave Rickell.  Literally, he was laughing so hard he was just getting out a kid’s giggle. It was fantastic and like nothing I’ve ever heard from an adult.

That's what we estimate 600 pounds of pears looks like

That’s what we estimate 600 pounds of pears looks like

Once we’d gathered all the pears in large buckets and bins, our crew headed over to Malachi’s Storehouse so we could deliver them.  In addition to hearing about their good works, we learned from the c0-directors that morning was the day that the people who receive the food would be there to pick it up.  We assembled and bagged the pears and then the kids eagerly lined up to hand out the fruit directly to the people. I know I’ve got a couple of horses in the race, but I swear to you our kids were awesome. They knew a lot of these folks were struggling. So they do what kids do best – they brought smiles to faces.  Some would say, “I just picked these today” or “I hope you enjoy them” to add a personal touch. Our kids even got an impromptu jam session going by banging on empty tubs and belting out a little “We Will Rock You” (granted they didn’t come up with much more than those four words, but they still rocked it).

Giving back felt pretty darn good

Giving back felt pretty darn good

A couple of the dads asked me where I came up with this crazy idea. I didn’t think of it. It came to me through Pattie Baker, a sustainability advocate and local do-gooder who noticed us at the parade and took the time to learn more about who we are.  So it was another great experience and I think there were several things each of us took away from it. I know one common thing we all walked away with was perspective. It was likely different for each of us as we all reflected on it in our own unique way. I’d like to think that maybe next time we encounter that critical situation when a stranger, acquaintance or better yet, a friend really requires some attention that we’ll act instead of overlook.  Because I like to think that someone in need could be like that branch I try to avoid. You see if we take the time to look up and see what’s weighing them down, we just might enjoy what we end up discovering.

Go. See. Be. Do.


About Matt Boettcher - Dads' Bucket List

Husband and dad to two boys who's always trying to enjoy the humor and meaning in the journey of fatherhood. Check out how things are going at: In addition to these responsibilities I'm also an avid (some would say obsessive) sports fan, very amateur gardener, aging but still active runner, and an always willing to experience a new country traveler.
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8 Responses to How long have you been standing there next to me?

  1. Anonymous says:

    What you all are giving these children in experiences! To hone in on an unforgettable add, “priceless”!

  2. kathy wood says:

    I feel like I have to say this again…You are SO talented and you have missed your calling!!!  And I promise I won’t mention it again (until the next time).

    >________________________________ > From: Dads’ Bucket List >To: >Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 6:35 AM >Subject: [New post] How long have you been standing there next to me? > > > > >Matt Boettcher – Dads’ Bucket List posted: ” Like most people I’m often guilty of neglecting to notice something I see so often that I end up pretty much not seeing it at all.  It may not be that I literally don’t see it, but I don’t notice it or appreciate what it has to offer.  For example, I ” >

  3. Great stuff. I think this is the third year the Farmhouse pears have been harvested for a good cause. Well done and all the best.

  4. I had no idea pears were so dangerous! But that’s great – sounds like everyone had fun and some got to eat.

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