Ever since my boys were little, I’ve gone strawberry picking at Springdale Farm in Cherry Hill, N.J., every year. Some of the best photos I’ve ever taken of my boys and their friends have been in those fields.

Today, I went picking by myself. I was sad to be going without the boys, but it’s too hot to go after school and Saturday mornings are now a rush to get to the farmers market and then get to the ball fields. I sure do miss going with those little boys who stuck green berries in their beach buckets.

I did have time to think while I was by myself, though, and I came up with a list of rules for strawberry picking when I'm all by myself. You might adopt some of these rules yourself; you might not.

  1. Wear sunscreen, even if it’s first thing in the morning.
  2. You can absolutely count strawberry picking as exercise.
  3. Try not to think about work. Try not to write and edit in your head. Try to focus on the berries, the dirt, the plants, the sunshine and the fresh air. Try.
  4. Don’t pick in the same row as someone else. If you pick behind another person, the good ones are gone. If you pick in front of them, you take the good ones. Go far away from others and get a row all to yourself.
  5. The number of strawberries you can eat while you’re picking and not be ripping the farm off is somewhere between three and five. Five might be pushing it. I pushed it.
  6. It’s okay to lie on the ground to get the best photos. You have to. The strawberries are way down there.
  7. When you see a parent with little ones taking pictures, offer to take some for her with her camera. That way, she can get in the pictures too and have a couple shots with everyone included.
  8. Stop when you have about three-fourths the amount you want. Here’s why. As you walk back to the cashier, you’ll suddenly see the most beautiful bunches of strawberries that must be picked. By the time you get to the cashier, your flat will be full. Trust me on this.
  9. Realize that there is one beautiful advantage to picking all by yourself: every single berry is perfect in your eyes. There won’t be a berry in the bunch that you’ll have to send to the compost.
  10. Share. You’ve most likely picked more berries than you need.
In the few hours since I’ve been home from picking, I’ve made a pound cake for dessert tonight that will be topped with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream. I’ve also made Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp from Emeril Lagasse’s “Farm to Fork” cookbook. I’ve got several pounds left. Any other suggestions?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Robin's rules for strawberry picking alone
Being all alone in the strawberry patch leaves time for all sorts of thoughts.