LET THE GOOD TIMES roll.

When I decided to use the above line as an opener for this week’s column, I first checked on, ugh, the internet to see which music artists most successfully recorded the song with those words in the lyrics.

Amazing what you can find on the internet. The list is a virtual who’s who in the music world. For folks of my age, now 70 and counting, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s artists included big names like Tony Bennett, Louis Jordan, Ray Charles, Chubby Checker, Roy Orbison, Barbra Streisand, Ike and Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Johnny Mathis and many more. Among the more contemporary artists on the list are Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Cars and more.

I guess people just like to let the good times roll. I do.

During this first third of September, I have been letting them roll. As I do most years, I pick blackberries in late August and into September. The crop is good this year; not great, but good. I have found plenty of berries, but overall, not many of the thumb-sized I like to find.

I like those big berries because they take far less time to fill a bucket and theoretically, the fewer berries you have to pick to fill a bucket, the fewer cuts and punctures to hands, arms, legs and other various parts of the anatomy you have to endure.

I will say that this year’s berries, though smaller in size, make up for it in sweetness. I also have to admit that as I pick, I sometimes am compelled to do some taste testing, just to make sure of proper quality. So far, the quality has been excellent.

Even without my personal taste tests, I have it on good authority that the berries are very sweet. That authority would come from a certain yellow lab who, once getting a handout of a few berries without an offer of any additional, decided to pick his own. On my last outing, shortly after giving him a taste-test morsel, I heard a slurping and “schlupping” next to me as I worked on a new tangle of briars. There was Gordie, carelessly attacking a bunch of briars himself, gulping down berries with great gusto. No more handouts will he see from me.

Aside from blackberries in abundance, other good times in the outdoors have been rolling for me as well. Hikes on backwoods old logging roads have led me to coverts holding at least a few grouse. A number of maples have begun sporting autumn formal wear in shades of orange, red and pale yellow for me to admire. Ferns are starting to brown up and fold over.

The good times of fall are upon us. In two weeks, I will be in my beloved piece of North Dakota prairie country chasing ducks and geese. Because I could and because I could not resist doing so, I got a head start on North Dakota last weekend, with a little teal and goose hunt on one of my favorite waterfowl lakes here.

With Gordie in the bow of the boat, I pushed our way through wild rice and lily pads to reach a favorite place to set up a blind. Having no teal decoys, three mallard blocks, two hens and a drake, along with a solitary Canada goose fake had so suffice for a decoy layout.

The blind consisted of simply pushing the Old Town into a thicket of tall green cattails then, bending a goodly number of them this way and that so they would — as did the blinds of Hizzoner, he who headed the August organization known as the Old Duck Hunters Association Inc., the Inc. stands for Incorrigible — allow a hunter to see out without letting a duck see in.

Mr. President would not, however, have been pleased with my even number of decoys — bad luck he always allowed — except that I would have pointed out to him that my spread of ducks numbered three and the goose numbered one, both odd numbers as favored by the association.

Anyway, on a pleasant afternoon, Gordie and I sat quietly waiting and watching. It wasn’t five minutes after we settled in that a lone bluewing teal came sizzling past, wings tearing a noisy slash through the air as it blew by us. It swung then, apparently pleased at the thought of having a goose and three mallards for company. I pulled the old “blind squirrel finds an acorn” trick and splashed it down as it put on the brakes just outside the decoys.

After that, I unloaded the gun and told Gordie we would just watch the rest of the afternoon. I had accomplished what I had set out to do. Gordie got the smell and taste of a duck hunt and retrieve, and I got to feel the recoil of a well-placed shot once more.

That was enough. After that, we were content to sit and watch two swans idly working the edge of a rice patch, a pair of coots swimming and diving, and twice, small groups of mallards flying well away from us across the lake.

Duck hunting is, as Gordon MacQuarrie once wrote, not all about hunting. Following his philosophy, a dictum which has long guided my hunting, I simply wanted to spend an afternoon under a lowering sky, a gentle breeze wafting treasured aromas of a duck marsh to me, cattails bending about me, dark green balsams mingling with reddening maple leaves and all else that sets such a fine backdrop to a hunt.

It was enough to be where wild ducks were, where I could draw on memories of similar days in this same blind as far back as 58 years ago. It was enough to watch a good dog sitting alertly looking for ducks one moment, gently snoring on a makeshift life preserver bed the next.

Such a place is where I have lived and loved to be all these decades; such a place as where I would like to be when my last No. 4 magnum has been fired, when my last mallard splashes down for a dog like Gordie to retrieve. 

That lazy afternoon, I felt no need to shoot another duck. I had had my moment and to sit there another two hours was merely to drink in the sweet wine that is a duck blind on an autumn afternoon. 

It was a time to, indeed, let the good times roll.