ven though more than six decades have passed since I last picnicked at Dripping Springs, it lingers in my memory as one of the most gratifying pleasures of my life. From childhood through high school, we planned and looked forward to annually following the dogwood trail to Dripping Springs. We usually met at the Pangburn depot and walked down the railroad tracks past the cotton gins, past the sawmill, past the few houses on the outskirts of town, and on past the Miller Farm. From this point on, the railroad followed the path that Little Red River had made through the mountains many millenniums ago. Not since the building of the railroad had ax or plow ruled over nature. Here is where the dogwood trail began. Along the riverbanks on one side of the tracks and the hill on the other side, there was a profusion of oak, hickory, sweet gum and other native budding trees forming a mist-like green veil background. Scattered among those trees, shrubs and vines were patches of native white flowering dogwood trees that were wearing their gleaming white flower bracts on bare branches.
Surrounded by all this beauty, we scarcely realized we had walked almost a mile for there on the hill side of the tracks was Dripping Springs. It was like entering an entangled courtyard which looked as though some mighty hand had stacked slabs of flat rock on top of each other, forming a cliff which almost completely enclosed a hollow square about the size of a basketball court as irregular in shape as the cliffs were irregular in height. A few tall trees and vines had survived on the almost solid rock floor. On the top layer of the cliffs, many white flowering dogwood, redbud and pussy willows displayed their magnificent beauty. Mingled in the crevices of the rock cliffs were bunches of fern, foxglove and other wild flowers which were clinging to the sides of the cliff walls like baby opossums clinging to their mothers. All during the year water continually dripped from between the layers of flat rocks. This was Dripping Springs.
Here is where, as a small child, my Sunday School class came for my first picnic. I still remember the Bible stories Miss Anna, our teacher, told us. One Easter she picked some clusters of white dogwood flowers and gave one to each one of us as she told us the legend of the dogwood tree. She said that tradition tells us that the cross upon which Christ was crucified was made from dogwood. With each of us holding a flower, she showed us that the four petals, notched at the tips, form a cross, and in the center of the notched tip is a blood red spot, which represents the blood Christ shed for us.
We were always hungry and ate soon after arriving. Miss Anna made lemonade using the cold spring water. The potato salad and fried chicken always tasted much better there than it did at home. We ate our lunch listening to the singing of the mockingbirds and whippoorwills, and shared our bread with the rabbits and squirrels that slipped in and out again. After lunch we waded in the little streams formed by the dripping spring water, which merged into one and flowed through a tunnel under the railroad tracks and on to the river. We caught tadpoles and crayfish, but most of all we girls enjoyed being chased by the boys when we pretended we were afraid of them.
As we grew older, even though our interest and activities changed, it was there where we always went for school picnics. If ever I go back there, I hope it will be in the spring, and that again I can follow the dogwood trail to Dripping Springs. vvv