​Day Before a Snowstorm | by Georg Koszulinski 

Needing firewood for the fireplace and not having the money to shell out for it, I drove ten minutes from my house out onto the country roads at the edge of the county. The first side road I came to, I think it was called ‘farm road’ looked good and I made a right. There were a few houses interspersed along the woods and the road quickly became a dirt road.  I’d actually been back here once before with my daughter for a yard sale last summer. I remember we met a young lady and her folks. The young lady wanted to become a creative writer so we talked for a while about her interests and how she was studying at the local community college. I love meeting people who are making art, especially young people.

I found a large block of land that had been clearcut. There was a pile of fallen trees, mostly pine it looked like, but most of the land was cleared a long time ago. I grabbed as many six-foot lengths as I could fit in the back of the El Camino, leaving the car running as it’s recently been a concern that it won’t start again, especially in the cold. This happened in a Wal-Mart parking lot at ten o’clock at night about a week ago when my wife sent me out for tampons, tortillas, and baby carrots. This was the trip where I also got a bunch of Christmas lights half off as we use them year round. I had to self-checkout which was an interesting experience in terms of being the laborer for the corporation who’s selling me goods, all in the name of lower prices or some such obscenity. As for me, I’d prefer much higher prices and the curbing of global exploitation of workers. Maybe it would slow down consumption, invite a collective reconsideration of the environmental costs of capitalism, people could work less, and spend more time focusing on the things that matter, like being present for our children, creating things, thinking critically about the world and our place in it, or just thinking in general, which most folks simply don’t have the time for. I guess I’m calling for a global revolution, a reorganizing of economic systems the world over, some kind of proto-socialist ecological revolution that dismantles capitalism once and for all. Do you really think we’re living in the best of all possible worlds? As I was ringing up the baby carrots, I noticed a six pack of ‘Mexican Coke’ in glass bottles, for the price of $5.97. That really pissed me off. Mexican laborers getting triply exploited for slave wages so American corporations can maximize profits while selling boutique ‘real sugar’ Coke for exorbitant prices and shelve it right next to the self-checkout for an impulse buy.

As I was walking across the clearcut, the ground had pools of ice formed from the freeze last night. On the way home I stopped at Lowes to get an axe, which cost $30.  I figured I needed to split these logs and my axe was still in Maine. As I exited, tiny stacks of firewood lined the wall, 6 bucks per bundle. Who pays $6 for a tiny stack of firewood?

I pull around back and dump all the wood out by the shed. Somewhere this summer, at another yard sale, I picked up a light-duty chainsaw, and it made easy work of cutting the logs to useable lengths. I elected not to purchase chain oil at the box store, as it was $5.98. Instead I poured some power steering fluid into the chainsaw’s oil reservoir and it seemed to work just fine, keeping the chain nice and lubricated. In all, I filled half the truck bed with stacked firewood and brought it around front where it could live on the front porch, under cover from rain & snow.

When Renee got home she asked me where I got the firewood and I told her. “So you trespassed onto someone’s private property and took it?” she asked.

“I guess so. There wasn’t a sign.” I just knew she was going to say something like that.


Georg has been making films and videos since 1999. His award-winning works have been presented at hundreds of universities and film festivals around the world, most recently at the Atlanta Film Festival, San Francisco DocFest, and Experiments in Cinema. Many of his documentaries and experimental essay films are also available through Fandor. His personal essays and poetry have recently appeared in Empty Mirror, Eyedrum Periodically, Gold Man Review, Blue Collar Review, and Blotterature Literary Magazine. Georg is an Assistant Professor of Film Studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington where he teaches filmmaking.


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