My Day at the Paramount Ranch
(from the journal of Little Italy) used with permission

USA- 1998


I'm sitting in front of Dr. Mike's clinic, right in the middle of the old, so loved Colorado Springs.
This morning I left the hotel in Santa Monica with a taxi, we took the Ventura Freeway towards Mullholland. At the end, on Cornell Road, I saw the wild drawings of Agoura Hills. Those are not really high mountains, but they are particularly dramatic and full of magic, above all - for me. Deep canyons cross them; green trees enrich their rough profiles; green, yellow and brown bushes dot their elegant and soft sides. Bare rocks pop now and then, against the deepest blue sky I've ever seen. This sky of California, those clouds of America. I've experienced this only on the highest peaks of the the Italian Alps.

The Pranch is wonderful! Everything is so sad for me, though. As soon as the taxi driver leaves me here, a deep excitement grabs my heart. I start jumping like a kangaroo, alone, in the dusty and deserted parking lot. I walk towards the gates of the town. The first thing I see is the old telegraph office, now Dot's Gazette. Of course, I see no sign of it. But there is perfect, complete untouched the Gold Nugget nearby. The sun is hot. Clouds of dust dance their mysterious way through my hair and dress. Oak trees sing their unknown melodies.

And the Clinic- seeing it has been a pang in my heart and a violent flutter in the pit of my stomach. No sign here, only the mark where it used to be. I can picture in my mind those words:" Medical Clinic- Dr. Michaela Quinn, MD. It's really sad, the show is over. This is a wonderful place to stay and to work. Inside, the clinic is empty. All the furniture, everything has been taken out and moved who knows where. Silence and sun on the good smelling wood of the door. Behind the clinic there is a large barn and inside some things I recognize: Abagail's wooden tomb cemetery marker and Charlotte's marker, Graces's stove, some chairs, dresses and pieces of wood from the new homestead. The Clinic is so beautiful. It's little, I expected it to be larger. I look at that porch, so well-known, and it seems a dream to be here. Dr Quinn itself has been a dream, for every one of us, a wonderful tale warming our hearts and giving us hope in life and love.

I explore the field in front of the church. The school is still up, inside I can see benches and blackboard where someone has written "Hola CBS television". The church is still standing too. Now I"m writing under the Gold Nugget Porch, near the horse-post where Hank and Jake used to stay drinking and chatting and watching Colorado Springs pass by. In front of me the clinic. I've walked towards the wonderful Santa Monica Mountains, hiking on a lost trail, covered by high bushes so that I've had to pull up my socks. The mountains are covered by the greenest woods and here, for a moment, but just for a moment, I've seen Michaela looking out at the mountains, worrying about Sully, a sad and sweet look on her face because he's left her to go to Rankin's camp.. Here there is plenty of little lovely squirrels and little silver lizards to keep you company and there is a beautiful silence.

I told the taxi driver to come back this evening, before sunset. I do not know what I"m going to do until then, but I love being here. This is the best place to let your mind run as wild as 'Flash" even if all my fantasies are shadowed by sadness. It's beautiful because I'm in my natural place, the place where my heart is, that is surrounded by mountains. Cool, soothing breezes blowing through my hair and through the trees. Sometimes I see someone here, tourists visiting the town, the guard on his funny golf cart, rangers passing by, looking at me, smiling at me as if they know. They are still working at the sad dismantling of some parts of the set and the noise of trucks disturbs the magic.

At my side, I have the two windows of the clinic where Horace made his report of Loren's operation. It's incredible, every corner I turn to there are some scenes or episodes coming to my mind. The field behind the clinic where Graces' cafe used to be is beautiful. There is a big oak tree giving shade and refreshment to dozens of black, shining ravens singing their melancholic song. Many things of Dr. Quinn have been deleted or exist no more but they cannot delete things from my fantasy and from my mind. The sun is turning; in a while I will be able to sit under that porch - the porch where Jane worked for so many years, giving us happy and thoughtful moments.

I was longing to touch Santa Monica Mountain's soil, as much, maybe more, as I desired to plunge into the Pacific Ocean. Now that I'm here, I'm not at all disappointed, I'm so happy. Only the happiness is mixed with melancholy when I least expect it- the melancholy that comes from something ending. My travel to the USA is ending, Dr. Quinn is ending. Only my dreams will bring them to me again and I suddenly feel now they will bring them to me always. I will never forget my graduation year and the wonderful events marking it as much as I will never forget the sweetest melancholy of my day at the deserted and lonely Pranch.

The church is painted against a wonderful mountain landscape. I just can feel the ocean waves behind those mountains. White butterflies run free among the sunny porches. It's only a set but for me, it's been as a welcome home, a journey to the deepest of my feelings. Now trucks are gone and peace is queen here. It's too beautiful, it's almost painful. Why is it so beautiful? Everything is harder this way. Every corner stirs a different emotion. A red hawk is flying from the clinic roof towards the mountains, towards a blue infinity. I give him some of my dreams, some of my memories, to bring in the wind, through his soft feathers. Memories of high school, of my father, of my university years, of my childhood with grandma and grandpa. I don't know why this place is having such an effect. It's as if it amplifies all my feelings and sensations. A family is picnicking under the oak next to the school as the good CS citizens used to do. A light breeze is blowing sweetly, the mountains are drawing pictures in the sky. The guard stops and waves at me. I talk a little with him, he says to me that next week they will destroy the school and the church. He looks so sad. He will not work here any longer, he says. It's beautiful to sit and just watch the shade covering bits by bit the clinic.

And suddenly, a crazy idea grabs my mind, it's as strange as it is consoling to me- if i had come here during the filming maybe I would not be feeling such emotion. Better, the emotion would have been different. I'd been dreaming of meeting Jane for so long- but I would have SEEN with my eyes the story I got to love so much and which made my dream come true was only a show, all a fiction. Instead, now, this way, in an old deserted Colorado Springs, everything is only mine. And the dream continues, uninterrupted. There are only my thoughts, no intrusions, no real world, no more pain, only sweet melancholy. I bite some cookies and banana, drink a bit of orange juice and I'm at peace with myself and with the universe.

Is it the sun playing on the buildings? No, it's the old ranch coming to life for me- only me. They are not the actors, those I see now. Hank and Jake are chatting behind me. Dorothy is printing in her Gazette, Michaela is coming out of the clinic in her white apron, Loren is busy sweeping the Mercantile. From time to time visitors arrive but it's as if I don't even see them. I feel happy and sad at the same time, as has happened to me already during this lonely American adventure. But melancholy is sweet in my heart. The guard tells me many couples chose this church to marry, I'm not surprised at all. I sit under the clinic porch where Mike's patients waited. Sometimes it does not seem real to me that I'm here, as it doesn't seem real that there is no more Dr Quinn to wait for.

1:15 PM

It's incredible. Only 4 hours ago, I wandered through the ranch worrying about staying here until 5:30 and now that 4 hours has flown by, I would like to stop time. I"m sitting on a bench in the old cemetery
under the big oak where Loren and Mike sat together discussing the sadness of life. I listen to the creaking sound that the wind makes as it blows through the wood of the old church washed by six years of rain and sun, and I watch as the wind shakes the branches above me. A bird sings his monotonous song and a big black raven crouched by the fence watches me intently and quietly. Earlier, I climbed up Grace's cafe's oak tree. It was beautiful, the feel of it's powerful body beneath my hands, it seems it was moving and hugging me.

There is no one in sight. Here thoughts run quicker. The mountains around hug you warmly. For the first time during my American trip, I have all the time I want to think or just wonder, to dream or just close my eyes and enjoy the breeze or taste the mountain air or just mix dreams and reality. If this were a real cemetery, it would be a peaceful place. Ravens talk among themselves. I remember the baseball game on the grass. Someone is passing by, is waving and smiling at me. The guard brings me a little bottle of cool water.


Only two hours and then I'll have to say goodbye to Colorado Springs. The guard offered me a 7up can, the Americans call it soda. I talked a lot with him about the show and he made me laugh when he told me he didn't get to see many episodes because he was always here working! It's terrific, everywhere you turn you see little animals running away. The Pranch is only mine!


I'm sitting under the Clinic porch. Only an hour and I"ll leave. This is a magic place. I spent 8 hours here as if it were only 8 minutes. There must be magic in all this. The guard let me take a tour in his golf cart( yes I trusted him. You can say I'm crazy but I trusted his jolly mexican smile) he is TOO kind! He opened the school for me, it's still furnished with benches, George Washington's picture and everything. He assures me I'm lucky to be in the school because when they filmed the interiors they would not allow fans to come inside. This is a privilege for me he says since I made my way all the way from Italy and I didn't get to meet my hero- Jane. It is strange, sitting on this golf cart and reading "Ms. Seymour" where I sit. The guard explains to me the tricks they used to disguise the big villa on the hills. In the school I stumble on an old handwritten script- it's the words of Teresa when Mike comes to see her at the school worried about Brian's strange behavior.

People are coming, the guard has to close the door and go back. I can almost feel the ocean breeze talking to me, trying to keep my spirits up. And even so- I'm happy. Today the Pranch is mine, I own it. I feel like Jane. I think about my father, watching me from the sky, from the top of Santa Monica Mountains,from a branch of the big oak trees. And suddenly, I hear a honk. The taxi. Sitting on it silently while it plunges into the big traffic of LA freeways, my tears streaming freely at last down my cheeks. And still, I smile and my heart is warm. - Little Italy-