There are places we all look forward to returning to every year. Village Harvest is no different, and today we harvested the first of several small orchards in the Santa Cruz mountains. Even though it’s still August, and plenty hot, it feels like the turning of the season.

These are Bartlett pears, and, like all pears, they are picked hard and green and left to ripen off the tree.

Some fruits have not been treated well by modern methods of plant breeding, farming and shipping. Tomatoes are the prime example; supermarket tomatoes are not really worth eating. But the Bartlett is the generic pear, the one you think of when you hear the word, and, in my mind, they’re hard to beat for delicious wonderfulness. Of course, they have to ripen, and, when you get a hard green one, that can be a frustrating wait.

There are several other places we pick pears, on into the fall, and so I look forward to pear jam, cake, ice cream and dried pears.

The owner of this orchard is the nicest lady, and she invited us into her lovely garden after we were done, to pick beans, cucumbers and zucchini.

And at snack time, we all had plum ice cream sandwiches.

At the risk of channeling Martha Stewart, I’m pretty proud of how these came out.

Normal ice cream sandwich recipes call for making cookies and then spreading softened ice cream upon them. I made a sheet of ice cream last week and last night baked sheets of cookie cut to fit. Then I sandwiched it all together, froze it again, and sliced it into pieces. I even wrapped them individually, although the silicone-coated parchment I used was impossible to tape together. The frozen cylinder from the ice cream maker did a good job of keeping them frozen, after being wrapped in towels and put in my cooler.

Of course, the problem with doing something like this is that it sets unrealistically high expectations. Henry brought a delicious watermelon; there is beauty in simplicity, too.