Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Now for the good images

When last I left you I was being overrun by hungry birds. A few of them might even have been angry birds, but I don’t like to judge.

The new camera did a fabulous job, notice the detail in the feathers!

As I moved further into the woods I noticed I was being followed by lots of little birds. So I stopped again to see who was hungry. Naturally the titmice dropped down immediately.

We have lift-off!

And the chickadees, who were very noisy about waiting for their treats.

“I’m so excited I dropped my peanut!”

But most intriguing was a female red bellied woodpecker who was watching me while keeping some space between the feeding frenzy and her perch high in a tree. Yet…the longer I fed the little ones the closer she got. She’d move to a different tree and then feign indifference as she checked out her new position for any stray bugs. Then she’d move closer.

I decided to ignore her, turned my back and kept feeding the busy little birds. And suddenly …

I wasn’t sure I could trust you, lady, but I’m really hungry.

She watched me for a bit, both of us seemingly holding our breath. Then she picked out her breakfast treat.

You can make this and any image larger by clicking on it. Check out how beautiful her eyes are.

She went up to a nearby tree to eat her peanut, but she was right back for more.

“This peanut looks good.”

Each time she visited my hand she flew off with her prize to enjoy just feet away.

Displaying her red belly and her amazing wingspan.

She came down a total of three times, and I felt like we were becoming best friends. She chased all the little birds away each time she arrived. After her third trip I tossed some seed on the ground for her or anyone else and I moved along.

The little birds were grateful. The blue jays were jubilant, they’d been screaming about being left out for several minutes.

“Than goodness she’s gone! I thought I’d never get anything else to eat!”

I kept playing with the settings on my camera, intent on catching the wing of the birds as they landed and took off again. Each time I fidled with the camera birds became impatient.

“Hey lady, you know little woodpeckers are pretty cool too!”

The blue jays followed me for quite awhile, picking up the leftovers.

They’re pretty, but man they can be noisy!

And a male red bellied woodpecker followed me too. He wanted to come down for a treat. He’d get close, but couldn’t quite make himself do it. My shoulders ached from holding one hand out with seed, and the other hand holding the heavy camera ready just in case

Little stinker would wait until I moved along, then come in for the leftovers.

I guess he figured I wouldn’t leave him out, and I didn’t. I always left him a couple peanuts on the trail.

Least you think I wasn’t paying attention to things other than birds, I assure you there were plenty of pretty things without wings.

I don’t know what these seeds were from, but I thought they were pretty cool.

It’s just that every time I concentrated on something else, every time I rested my tired shoulder and lowered my seed filled hand, someone would fly around my head in protest.

Double incoming!

The day had started out cold and very windy, but as I wandered in the woods the sun broke through, and I warmed up. Trapising up and down hills while being pursued by birds warmed me up too.

A little chickadee ready for takeoff.

I thought about sitting on a bench for awhile, just take it all in.

Morning light on one of my favorite benches.

But there were more and more people wandering in the woods, and I had plenty of pictures to share. Plus, I’d been there a couple hours longer than the original few minutes I had planned on.

Sunshine makes everything art.

So I headed back toward the car…past the crane parking lot greeters who were now wandering down the path. They were much less interested in me than they had been when I arrived, when they almost mugged me for something to eat.

A crain and her shadow.

The sun was out now, the sky a brilliant blue. Part of me wanted to stay, but my shoulders and back ached. And since I had forgotten to eat breakfast before I left home, I was starving too.

It was turning into a beautiful day!

I didn’t think the birds were going to give me anything to eat, so it was time to go. I had a wonderful time even if it wasn’t anything at all like what I had come to find.

That’s the cool thing about this park. No matter what you plan, no matter what actually happens, it’s always going to be beautiful.

Love the heart on her head.


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Tangled titmouse

My husband surprised me with a new camera a couple weeks ago. It’s actually the same as my old new camera, a Nikon Z6, but with upgrades that are supposed to make the focusing issues much better. It’s a Z6 II. Both of us have spent a bunch of time setting up menus but there’s a lot I don’t know about the inner workings of the changes.

Early this morning I went out to my favorite park intent on looking for some swans and ducks. I wanted to do something different than my usual birds in the hand images. Oh, don’t think I didn’t have a pocket full of seed, I thought I’d stop by the nature trails to visit my little birds after I found that perfect image of a duck.

As I was driving through the park I saw a bunch of swans in the early morning light, and a parking lot not so far away. I smiled.

Sitting in the car I switched to my long lens and then headed out into the freezing cold, windy day. I was half way to the edge of the lake, sneaking up behind trees so as not to alarm the swans, when I turned on my camera and got an error message. Something about not updating something or other related to the adaptor used to connect the long lens to the new camera body.

Drats.

Early morning light and some far away swans.

No long lens meant no swans and ducks and deer and…well…drats. I wasn’t smiling any more. Who knew that there would be this sort of error. I remember the days when cameras were easy, but that’s another blog post.

Back in the car I switched back to the short lens, then grabbed a shot of the swans just because, and headed over to the nature trails and my little birds. I thought I’d spend a few minutes with them, and then head home.

Mission not accomplished.

The usual crane greeters were in the parking lot, but I ignored them. They weren’t what I was looking for, I had plenty of pictures of cranes. Come to think of it, I had plenty of pictures of birds eating out of my hand too. It was cold and windy. I didn’t have gloves.

I decided I’d only stay a few minutes.

Looking to collect the entrance fee from all visitors.

You know that nightmare where you’re parked in a dark parking garage and you get out of your car and turn and there’s some guy standing right behind you? Well. That sort of happened with me and the cranes.

While I was parking and considering whether to go feed the little birds they had come up behind the car. And as I got out and turned toward the trail they were both right there, in my personal space. They were inches from me, and very intent on getting something to eat. My bag of seed was jammed in my pocket and I couldn’t get it open very fast.

They moved closer.

They were almost as tall as me and their red eyes were focused on my hand in my pocket. If I couldn’t get that seed out they were going to get it out for me!

Finally I tore the bag open, grabbed some seed and flung it as far away from me as I could. They dutifully trotted after it and I retreated in the opposite direction. I scampered down the stairs to the trail and what did I find?

Four very large, very hungry turkeys.

Hey lady! Did you bring us breakfast?

When they saw me they started running. Toward me. (They must not realize how close it is to Thanksgiving!) The image above is out of focus because I hadn’t had time to adjust the settings for fast moving birds in dim light. Plus I was grabbing for some seed to distract them before they ran into my legs.

I tossed some seed as far away from me as I could fling it and they ran after it as I retreated down the trail.

Wow. So far all I’d done is get one bad picture of swans and fended off large birds. I hadn’t even fixed my camera settings. So I stopped part of the way down the trail and began fiddling with dials.

All of the sudden there were little birds flying all around my head. The sound of their wings was confusing because they were coming from all over. I looked up and there were titmice flying at me from everywhere, with a chickadee or two and a woodpecker thrown in for good measure.

Kinda out of focus woodpecker choosing his treat.

They were swarming my head, one landed on my glasses (which, by the way, were on my face) one or more was on my head, and at least one was tangled up in my hair, and a few more were flying around me looking for somewhere to land.

Every one of them was hungry.

It was early on a cold morning and they had obviously not eaten since the day before. I managed to get my seed out and didn’t try to get pictures, just enjoyed having them so close and personal.

When things settled down everyone got something to eat.

I got a few bad pictures and a couple good ones before I headed on down the trail. I’ll post about the good ones in the next blog. It’s possible you’ve figured out by now that I stayed longer than just a few minutes.

Stay tuned.

Yep, another out of focus shot.


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Abby and me

Katie here. Hey! Bet you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing lately – right? What? You’ve been busy with all the craziness going around, the virus, the election, the weather?

I’m not on your radar?

At a new park!

Huh.

I think mama’s been slipping. I hired her to be my agent, my marketing advisor, and my general manager, but maybe that’s too much for her, what with her being elderly and all.

I might have to reevaluate her contribution to my franchise.

We had a pretty beautiful day to enjoy the park.

I guess I’ll have to tell you about an adventure I had last weekend myself. I can’t believe it’s already a week ago and mama hasn’t put it up on my her blog.

You might remember that last year I got to meet aother sheltie-girl, Abby. We met her and her mom down in Ann Arbor and walked in the Arboretum. We said we’d get together again, but you know how time flies, and here it is a year later and we still hadn’t gotten back together.

This is Abby and her mom Shawn just last weekend.

So I told mom she better get to getting and arrange another walk date with my friend. And you know what? She listened to me and the next thing I know I’m in the car and the ride is much too long for us to be going to my usual parks.

Isn’t she beautiful? She’s 13.

I got kinda nervous, but figured I’d trust mama this time, and I was happy I did. Cause we got out of the car at a beautiful little park in Ann Arbor, and there was Abby and her mom!

It was nice to see Abby again!

Both of us are a year older now and we don’t go on real long walks any more, but this little park was perfect, with lots of places for the moms to sit and talk while we rested.

Abby liked to sit between her mom’s feet.

Well, sometimes we rested, sometimes we asked how long the moms were going to sit around.

I liked to spend our walk breaks checking for treats.

Abby and I were OK with posing for the moms as long as we were maintaining our social distancing. It’s really not that hard, neither one of us understands why people are having such a hard time with this concept.

Abby will pose for NO TREATS! I’m going to have to explain my ‘one shot, one treat’ rule to her.

Anyway, it was really good to see Abby and her mom. We decided we might try to get together again before the weather gets too bad. But knowing mama, that will probably be next spring!

I think our beauty enhanced this park. Dont you?

Abby. She’s so beautiful, she still reminds me of a regal queen. Queen Abby and Princess Katie. We were quite a beautiful sight, as we were told by numerous people out there in the park.

Hanging out together, but not too close together.

People are pretty good at spotting royalty, even when we leave our tiaras at home.

Definitely royality.

Signing off for now,
Park Princess Katie

It’s good to have a girlfriend when you want to go on a walk.


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Morning smile

Wow, what a crazy time we are living in. But this morning I received a gift and I thought I’d share it with you.

A couple weeks ago, while in a wildlife store purchasing thistle seed for my finches I heard that evening grosbeaks were being seen on local feeders even though their range doesn’t normally come this far south.

I’d never seen an evening grosbeak, so I looked them up in my birdbook and began to keep watch. Nothing much showed up, at least while I was watching, but this morning as I was passing by the glass door in my kitchen I noticed a shape on the railing that didn’t fit my regular bird visitors.

The early morning light is bad, but there she is!

Whatever it was was bigger than my little birds, and sort of the shape of a smallish robin. And then, in the early morning light there was a slight flash of yellow. And that white bar on the wing. The light was so poor, but I couldn’t help but grab the camera, change the lens to the long one, amp up the ISO and try.

I was satisfied with the bad photo because I had proof of my visitor. And that made me smile.

Then the bird, I think it’s a female, flew up into the tree above the birdfeeder, watching the chaos that always surrounds morning breakfast.

A little more light, but still not great.

Still the light was bad and I had to up the ISO until the image looks more like an illustration than a photo. But I was smiling.

She dropped down for a try at the feeder.

“Maybe I’ll grab a quick bite during this lull in activity at the breakfast bar.”

She made it in to grab a seed but the bully bluejays were right there chasing her away.

“Gotta be quick!”

I put the camera away to tend to the dog. But passing by another window I saw morning light slice across her as she sat on the railing, picking up seed others had left behind.

The rising sun gives us just a peek at how beautiful she is.

And then, wonder of wonder, she dropped down to the deck, right into a patch of light.

“Nom, nom, nom.”

I think she did that just for me.

I especially liked this shot, that shows the dog footprints on the frosty deck. Katie and I had just been outside, filing the feeders and sniffing for good stuff.

“Hmmmm…smells like dog around here.”

I’m sure glad she stuck around to show me herself. She’s definitely part of the good stuff around here. She was a gift this cold November morning.

And now I’m sharing it with you.

Smile!

Look how pretty the wings are from the back.


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Haehnle Bird Sancuary

This week I decided to explore a new (to me) bird sancuary over near Jackson Michigan. I’d heard vague things about it over the years, that it was filled with migrating birds, particularly sandhill cranes.

This path leads down to a space where lectures are held.

Every year I meant to get there, either in the spring when the birds were coming back or the fall when they were heading out. Every year time gets away from me.

The day was beautiful, with sunshine and a breeze kicking leaves out of their trees.

So this year I was determined and I did some research before I drove over there. Seems the migration period would be late September to the end of October. I was cutting it pretty close.

Heading away from the wetlands and into the woods.

The website also told me to be there at sunrise or sunset when the birds were moving from or back to their perches for the night. So I had a plan.

But you know how it goes with plans. I got a later start in the morning than I had planned, and it was later in October than optimal too. On the hour and a bit drive I did see a huge flock of sandhills in a field, about 2 miles from my house, but I didn’t stop for pictures because I was going to a bird sanctuary.

A few trees were hanging on to their color.

When I got to Haehnle the parking lot was a muddy mess. Leaves covered everything but it was obvious there were huge muddy holes that you wouldn’t want to drive through. I turned around and backed into a spot up next to a fence where I had a straight shot getting out.

As I left my car to begin exploring I did hear some cranes flying, but it was already almost 9:30, really long past sunrise. There was one flock of geese that flew over, but nothing really special.

In a meadow the sun glinted off the dried weeds.

So I decided to just walk the 1.5 mile trail and not worry about finding birds.

It was a pretty trail, that started out skirting the wetlands where I could imagine thousands of cranes visiting. Then it turned left into the woods.

Walking on all those leaves was fun.

There were still very beautiful colors in a few of the towering trees. The trail meandered through a meadow and then back into the woods. I didn’t see another person until I was almost back to the car. This mother and her two children were enjoying the sunshine and the crisp autumn air.

Taking a walk.

All in all this was quite a disapointment, but I think I will try again in the spring, maybe go at the right time of year and earlier in the day. I figure most of the disappointment was my own making.

The details were beautiful, I just had to look for them.

And the drive over there was often spectacular, roads through golden tree tunnels. You’ll have to imagine those as there was nowhere to safely stop.

This place could be interesting at the right time of year.

Regardless of the lack of birds, I can’t complain about a pretty walk in the woods. And on the way home I found a couple barns.

At the exit where I stopped to get gas.

Because what’s an adventure without a barn?

Not sure what a barn sanctuary is. Maybe I should have explored there.

Why, no adventure at all!

I don’t know what this was, but it was cool.


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Desperately seeking smiles

We’ve had it rough around here for a few weeks. Though the trees are bursting with color and we had a series of beautiful sunny and above average warm days, no one here was enjoying it.

Katie under the ginko tree with leaves falling in the early morning light.

That’s because husband, brother-in-law who was staying with us, and I all tested positive for Covid a little over two weeks ago.

Yep, no matter that we’d been careful, limited our travel to only necessary trips, washed our hands incessently, wore masks everywhere.

A young cardinal stops for breakfast.

We still ended up with the virus.

And worse, my brother-in-law didn’t survive. So on top of feeling tired with achey muscles and never ending coughs we had to work our way through grief and funeral arrangements.

That early morning light makes her glow.

Now that I’m feeling better, I am recognizing that there were a lot of moments, in amongst the heartache and chaos, that made me smile.

Neighbors and family leapt to help us, doing our grocery shopping, picking up Katie’s perscription from her vet, dropping off cases of water and snacks and flowers and fruit and fully cooked meals.

Red Bellied woodpecker enjoys a snack on the go.

And did I mention soup? We got lots of chicken noodle soup; it’s true that chicken noodle soup is good for the soul. We are proof of that.

Everybody gets into the breakfast act.

Even now that things are settling down we are getting numerous messages and texts, calls and emails from concerned family and friends.

The katsura tree dropped all her leaves at once too.

Covid is a scary, dangerous and unpredictable thing. But it’s possible to smile even in the midst of it if you’re as lucky as we are to have wonderful people surrounding you in love.

Are you pointing that lens at me, lady?

Images are from our backyard these past few days. Lots of smiling there too.

Even our first frost made me smile.


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Walktober in times of covid

Part of our back yard showing up in fall colors.

I look forward to Robin’s Walktober all year. She has hosted it for many years, a period of time in October where we all go for a walk, take a few (or a lot) of pictures, and share the walk with all of you by linking back to her blog. She’ll gather all our walks and present them in a compliation near the end of the month.

Color in the trees dances with the clouds.

I had a lot of plans for this year’s walk. I’ve been thinking about it for months. There are a couple of bird sanctuaries I haven’t visited that I considered exploring. There’s a hilly park closer to home that I think is photogenic no matter the season that I could share.

Light plays in the dying maple leaves.

Our weather has been beautiful, sunny sky, trees bursting with color. Perfect for a Walktober. I just had to decide which direction to take you.

Bitersweet – summerizes how I feel about this fall.

And then covid.

Shortly after Katie did her Walktober covid invaded our house and now we’re isolating at home. My isolation will be up October 18, and though I know Robin would give me a few more days, I don’t know if I’ll be up to tromping up and down hills even then.

The pond across the road provides any number of photographic opportunities.

So this year, reluctantly, my Walktober has been around my own back yard. Katie says I shouldn’t feel sad, that we have a very pretty back yard, and she’s right.

Our yard is beautiful, especially when I’m in it!

Still, the adventurer in me wishes I could get up early some morning and drive across the state to somewhere not seen before. Wishes I could walk new paths, shoot new vistas, breathe free.

The oaks are beginning to glow.

So far the symptoms my husband and I are experiencing are mild, and we hope they stay that way. The hardest part, for me, is the staying at home part. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s only two weeks.

Last bit of summer hangs on for a few more days.

So, I hope you enjoyed the images in this post of my official Walktober meander through my back yard. And I hope each of you can go for a walk and share it with us too! Just link to Robin’s blog, we look forward to seeing another part of the world.

Royal color welcomes fall.

Especially since we can’t go there in person.

The view from our deck.


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Katie’s Walktober

Hi everyone, Katie here. Mama told me Ms. Robin was hosting Walktober again this year. I’m so glad, it’s always good to have an excuse to go for a walk. I think everyone benefits from getting outside, don’t you agree?

I did my Walktober on an interesting weather day!

I definitely believe in getting mama off the couch as often as I can. She’s not always so appreciative.

Well, anyway, this time I owe mama cause we walked at a new park, Rose Oaks, which is about 6 miles from our house. Even though it’s not far I’ve never been there and mama has only been there once.

Those are the clouds that hailed on us!

She went this summer but the mosquitoes made her run out of the woods. She said she wanted to go back and she thought maybe she’d do her Walktober there. But when she told me she was thinking about heading over there I made it abundently clear that I needed a Walktober too, and this park sounded perfect for me.

There weren’t a lot of flowers, but this one was pretty!

So she sighed and said she’d let me use our walk at Rose Oaks as my Walktober this year.

Turns out it began to rain and then hail on our way to the park. But it cleared up just after we arrived, so we got to explore almost right away. First thing mama took me out on this long dock.

You sure you want to go way out there, mama?

I wasn’t sure I liked being on the dock, I could see water right under my feet! As you know I am a Princess, and I do not like getting my feet wet, so I wasn’t happy that water was so close. But I’m also a good girl, and since mama wanted to go out there I went too.

Well come on then mama! I’m always waiting for you!

The view was pretty spectacular, what with the storm clouds moving overhead. Still, I wasn’t all that comfortable out there, so mama and I headed to the woods. But first we had to walk over another long bridge.

Hurry up, mama, the woods are right over here!

Finally we got to the woods. Since mama forgot to look at the map she wasn’t sure which way to go. So she let me decide.

Which way should we go, mama?

I thought this way looked pretty. What do you think?

There’s a little bit of color over this way, mama!

To be honest, mama took a lot of pictures of stuff that wasn’t me. She kept stopping, and the worst thing was when she was taking pictures of flowers I didn’t get a treat!

Mama liked these yellow flowers with that red background.

I think I’ve made it clear that when she takes a picture I’m supposed to get a treat. It’s in my contract. There’s nothing in there that says the picture has to be of me. One shot, one treat, that’s the rule.

Sometimes mama likes me to sit next to big trees just because they’re cool. I’ll do that for a treat.

We walked a ways into the woods looking for color.

There wasn’t a lot of color, but what was there was really pretty.

And then you know what happened? It started to rain! Well, not on us, not at first. We could hear it coming though, mama said it sounded really cool coming from way off in the woods. And then she said I needed to hurry up because we were a long way from the car.

Wait mama! You said we needed to find color, how about this? 

I, of course, was not in the hurrying up sort of mood. I wanted to sniff stuff some more. And don’t forget I’m almost forteen, a forteen year old does not hurry. Unless treats are offered.

The sun came out and so did my shadow!

So we mosied along toward the car and you know what happened next? Nothing! The rain never got to us. So when we came to another trail I decided we should go explore that one too and mama signed and rolled her eyes and followed me along.

It was, after all, my Walktober.

Come on, mama, let’s keep walking!

We wandered a bit more, until mama said we should turn around. At which time I sat down and refused to head back to the car unless I got a treat. She gave up after she saw I was serious. Not turning around mama unless I get something!

Not going anywhere, mama, without a treat.

Sometimes mama is smart and just goes with the flow and this time was like that. Mamas can be trained.

Pretty when the sun shown through them.

After my treat I trotted along willingly. To tell you the truth I was getting kind of tired anyway.

Mama stopped and took a few more pictures but pretty soon we were back at the car. I know there’s a whole lot more to this park than we got to see, and I hope mama takes me back again, maybe when it’s cooler and I feel more like trotting along.

Wait up mama!

Meanwhile, I thought you’d enjoy seeing my new park. I call it Katie’s Park III.

Last bit of sun on the leaves before we left.

Time for a nap now. I bet Mama will take one too, we’re both getting older, don’t you know.

Thanks mama, I got sort of dirty, but that was fun!

And thanks to Ms. Robin for hosting Walktober.  Mama and I look forward to it every year and we know it isn’t always easy to host these kinds of things.  We sure appreciate it!

Reflections

Now I need to get mama off the sofa and out into the woods somewhere so she can go on her own Walktober.  Personally I think she should take me along, because I’m the best Walktober pal she’s ever had.

Don’t you know.

Your park guide gal,
Katie-girl.

Mama’s artsy-fartsy picture. She always has one.


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2 smiles, one weekend

I’m a lucky lady, I got to experience two big smiles jammed into one weekend. Plus we are experiencing beautiful weather, warm and sunny with the trees starting to turn color. The morning and evening light makes the trees just glow.

But that’s a different blog post.

My first smile of the weekend was Saturday evening when I got to play in a pop-up concert with some of my Clarkston Community Band mates and several professional musicians who came to fill holes in our orchestration.

The neighbors came out to listen to us play on their cul-de-sac.

We haven’t played together since early March. Many of us haven’t played at all since then, though most of us frantically practiced these past few days trying to get our lips back in shape. The professionals sightread the music and sounded wonderful. I was grateful to get to play with them.

Thankful for these guys coming to help us out.

It was a lovely night and we are reminded again why we play long after school ends. As our Director, Ms. Roland said, tonight we’re not talking about politics or bingewatching silly shows on TV, we’re not thinking about virusus or worried about the future.

ALl about the music.

Tonight it’s about the music. And what a relief that was.

Keeping us in time.

I hope the neighbors who came out of their homes, sat in lawn chairs and waited while we did a little rehearsing before we began, I hope they had as much fun as we did.

Making a big sound.

But I don’t see how they could have had more.

He’s played with us since he was a kid, now grown up and still making music.

Then this morning I did a virtual 5K with my friend Tami who lives in California. So that we could run/walk together she went out at 6 a.m. while it was still dark, and I waited until 9 am. here, an hour or more later than I would normally go out.

At the turn around point.

It was a compromise on both our parts because we wanted to motivate each other. Compromise works, I wish it was something that happened more in our world, but I’m not going there in this post.

Nope, this post is all about smiles. I hope you had something fun to do, or pretty to see, or beautiful to listen to this week.

As we march toward November we all need to remember to smile. And that’s as political as I’m going to get today.

Trombones all in providing the bass sounds.