Ears of the Earth

Ears of the Earth

A soul struggling
against cold and darkness
longs for safe refuge.

A bitter wind howls
across a desolate plain
held in winter’s grip.

Snow sweeps the barrens,
settling in powdery drifts
that entomb the land.

Dusk splits the dark clouds
in a dance of fading light
and indigo shadows.

A downy crocus
gathers the meager light
of a setting sun.

Blue petal-like sepals
concentrate warmth to nurture
life’s delicate spark.

Ears of the Earth hear
fair stirrings of life beneath
the frozen surface.

– Peter von Stackelberg


This digital narrative is also posted on Cowbird.


Creative Approach

Ears of the Earth takes its title from the name give the prairie crocus by some aboriginal tribes on the Canadian prairies and the northern plains of the United States.

The poem was written during during the early spring of 2004 and was completed April 4, 2004. The poem was based on the image, which was inspired by a cluster of blue crocuses poking through the snow during a blizzard in western New York state in early March, 2004.

The prairie crocus is the first flower to emerge in the spring in northern Alberta, Canada, where the author grew up. As a child, he would pick bunches of the pale blue flower in the hills of the Peace River valley and take them home to his mother. To many, including the author, the flower is a symbol of the return of spring after a long, dark, cold winter.

The image was created in March, 2004 and completed over a two-day period during a single weekend.

The figure of the man in the image looms over the crocus and the landscape. The shape of the man is modeled on the image of a lighthouse Piet Mondrian painted in 1908. The scanned image of Mondrian’s work was scaled to fit within the frame of the image. A three-dimensional rendering of the human figure was created and posed using Poser 5. It was scaled to fit within the shape of Mondrian’s lighthouse image. The opacity of the lighthouse image was reduced significantly to allow the human figure to show through.

Some of the strong vertical brush strokes of Mondrian’s image remain visible and have been incorporated into the final image of the man.

The clouds are a digital image that was substantially modified using Photoshop’s smudge tool. The setting sun was taken from another digital image that was layered behind the clouds.

The drifting snow is also a digital image that was distorted using Photoshop’s perspective tool to give the illusion of a distant horizon.

The crocuses are a combination of three digital images what were cleaned up and combined. The smudge tool was used slightly to soften the appearance of the leaves and petals. The illusion of drifting snow was created using spots of white color that were smeared using the smudge tool.