A series on Verbania Treasure wouldn’t be complete without Ambrose. In January of 2015, I got a delightful gift of a felted mouse from my talented friend, Faith Hamilton. Ambrose captured our hearts immediately. He seemed like an adventurous little creature who would thoroughly appreciate a trip to Europe–in fact, I got the impression he had traveled before. Over the course of our trip, Ambrose had numerous adventures. He rode planes, trains, buses, cars, and ferries. He checked out the flora and fauna of the places we went, and trying to see these things from his vantage point made us look at things completely differently.
A few times he almost got me in trouble. Without thinking on day, I posed him in a display in a cheese shop, because it was the sort of place that a mouse would love and want to remember. When I took him out of the display after our session, the shop owner began screaming at me in Italian. I assume she thought I’d shoplifted one of her cheeses. I tried to explain in English, but when I got another verbal assault in Italian, I thought it best to leave as fast as possible, and I did.
Another time I almost lost him to a guard at the cathedral in Milan. I was trying to find a creative way to show his tiny size in the vast space. Before I could retrieve him from the floor, a guard reached down and closed his hand around Ambrose. He scolded me for frivolity in a holy place and said the cathedral was not a place for toys. You know, he was right. There is a time and a place for felted mice, and a time and a place for thinking about God and an incredible architectural marvel that took thousands of workers and six hundred years to complete. These different ideas should probably not intersect. (Incidentally, the Milan cathedral was built from pink marble quarried out of Lake Maggiore.) The guard did give him back to me, but not until he had completed his lecture. Lesson learned.
Ambrose was a delightful companion, and I’d hoped he could accompany me on adventures for years to come. Tragically, I lost him a year after the trip. In a late edit of Verbania Treasure, I wrote what I wish could have happened instead. In my mind he’s still tilling his little rowboat garden in Ghiffa, writing poems, and almost certainly, having a marvelous time doing it.