"Aukwicher Squawking!"

One Summer, long ago, we packed the car for a rare Family Vacation: A drive from Michigan to Texas to visit my Wife’s Mom and family. The twins were not yet teens but were already steeped in a well-practiced, highly audible, sibling rivalry, sure to make the car feel smaller by the mile. Back then, today’s digital pacifiers were not an option. Having done this before, we packed some books for reading, an old game or two, and bought some new sketch books, markers & crayons, to keep the Peace. 

Somewhere West of the Mississippi, the backseat erupted in a crescendo of barbs and bickering. After a few unsuccessful attempts to calm things down with the usual threats and coercion, I broke out the “Silencers.” I handed each their own sketchbook, and markers. Saying “Draw Something!“- “But I don’t want to draw!”-“Draw Anyway” -“This is Lame,”- “Not a word. Just draw!….” Eventually, it got quieter. Then, occasional grumbles turned to giggles… “That is Not Me!” –“Yes it is! You’re a Pizza Face. That’s you!” …Frantic scribbles in reply: “There! You’re a Rabid Squirrel!” “I am Not” – then on to more highly animated drawings and titles in reply. This went on for miles. By the time we reached the scenic turnout for a picnic stretch, the Art Wars had elevated to a flurry of Funny Faces and Shared Laughter. Art Had Won!

At the picnic table, they wanted to keep drawing and wanted me to join them.“But, I don’t know what to draw!,” I whined, pretending to be them. I asked my son to make a mark on my page in pencil, so I could try to turn it into something. He scribbled. I turned it into a cartoon face. We did this several times.Then, on a new page, he drew an outline of what looked like the upper beak of a tropical bird, a Toucan of sorts. I drew a banana beneath it for the lower beak-its mouth wide open; added a pear-shape for the head, a lemon for the eye, blueberry for the pupil, pomegranate for the body, and so on until I had this odd little bird. I thought of an ancient Auk only smaller, more kid-friendly – an “Aukwicher.” When we got home, I added pen & ink, watercolor and acrylic for this souvenir of our wonderful trip to Texas. It was a fun combination of spontaneous art – with words I said over my shoulder more than once to noisy kids in the back seat: Aukwicher Squawking!