Between washing your hands every five minutes, biting your nails over the next Democratic presidential primary, and staring into the abyss of your retirement account, there’s a lot to be stressed about these days.
Hey! You’re touching your face!
That’s why the world needs “The Log” and its sequel, “The Log 2: Another Year,” a pair of no-budget, meditative nature films made in the wilds of Pennsylvania’s vast forest. There’s no plot. Action is a chubby black bear slipping on a tree trunk that fell across a creek. A beaver swims under it. A great blue heron hunts on top of it. The soundtrack is the babbling stream and noisy kingfishers.
Look at that bobcat, using the log as a scratching post. Aww, kitty.
Robert Bush Sr., 51, of Houtzdale, Clearfield County, is the man behind the two films. It all began several years ago, on the Sunday hikes he takes with his father. Together, they looked at paths worn by time, by thousands of hooves and paws and the branch-like tracks of birds’ feet, and daydreamed a bit.
“You just always wonder what else is using these trails,” Bush said. “What else is out there?”
Why a log?
“It just sort of happened,” he said. “There was this old log, and I wondered what might cross over it. You think a squirrel, maybe a mouse.”
“I never expected a bear,” he said.
“It just went crazy,” he sad. “I think it’s just something really nice to look at. I think it relaxes people."
The Cook Museum of Natural Science, in Decatur, Ala., asked Bush if it could use “The Log” for a display. That was fine with him. Bush, who works at a senior facility in Blair County, said he hasn’t made any money off the films.
“I just don’t like the thought of it,” he said.
Bush uses a trail camera with a motion sensor, affixed to a tree near the log. Trail cameras are often used by hunters, who place them near tree stands or potential hunting sites to spy what’s passing by. Bush said he isn’t against hunting, but doesn’t hunt at the log and doesn’t give away its location. Whenever people persist, he tells them it’s in Pennsylvania Wildlife Management Area 4-D, approximately 1.7 million acres in Central Pennsylvania. Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park is 2,052 acres.
That means they likely won’t find it.
Bush said he’s captured dozens of species but never humans on the trail camera. He hasn’t crossed it himself.
“That sucker is slippery,” he said.
The log is old, ephemeral. One black bear was so heavy it left a paw print in the log. Bush saw a mink vanish into its hollow parts and deer eating the grass growing from it. He’s never seen any wrangling over the right-of-way. Each spring, when snows melt and rain comes, a torrent of turbid water rushes over it.
The log remains, for now, and Bush isn’t sure if he’d try to intervene if were washed away.
“If Mother Nature is going to take it away, if it ever goes, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Bush said. “I’m not going to say either way. There’s other logs out there.”