Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Puzzlement

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. 2002.

The leopard cannot change its spots

We cannot change our basic nature. This saying is adapted from
words in the biblical Book of Jeremiah: “Can the Ethiopian
change his skin, or the leopard his spots?”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Edited by E.D. Hirsch, Jr.,
Joseph F. Kett, and James Trefil. Copyright © 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

I've always been fascinated by sayings, proverbs, and colloquialisms. No idea why, but where they came from, and what led to their becoming a time tested saying is interesting.

For the most part, these generic sayings can mean most anything the user wants at the time, but there is some specific truths in each of them. The saying I've posted above is one of them. It is in the family of not being able to teach an old dog new tricks, but I've found that one to be untrue. Old dogs are just wiser, and don't really let on that they've mastered some new trick like opening the cupboard where the Milkbones are kept. Why spoil a good thing? Wisdom is something that comes to old dogs.

So, if one reads into the saying about a leopard not being able to change its spots, what exactly does it mean? Are we all destined to be whatever we are now with no chance of ever changing, or are we basically just a person that chooses which way to be at any particular time? That would be better. If one chooses how they perform, or behave, they do have the power to change their spots.

I'm trying to be idealistic here, with some realism thrown in for good measure.

So, this leopard thing got me to thinking, what if I was to witness a "leopard" actually changing his spots?

Whoa. That would be so cool, but then I remember that animals in the wild will adapt their appearance to their environment. The chameleon is a great example. Birds change their coloring from summer to winter in order to blend in with the leafless surroundings. The Yellow Finch is an example of this as they change from brilliant yellow to a light brown in the fall. Most animals change their "spots" for survival, to blend in with the environment in order not to be someones next meal. Other animals change their appearance for the opposite reason, they are looking for that next meal, and need to blend in in order to get it.

It's a conundrum.

This whole "leopard" thing had me thinking about politicians. Seems that President Obama is taking some heat for being the "Change King of Washington", but the new spending bill he pushed through the Congress is laden with "pork". Strange. He said there wouldn't be any earmarks. Then I figured he signed it because the greater good the bill would do far outweighed the lesser good those earmarks would do, so in order to get what he needed, he compromised.

Same ol', same ol'. I was disappointed, but heck, this is a crisis.

Another saying that is can be closely linked to the leopard one is the one about a "wolf in sheeps clothing". Well, sheep don't where clothes, at least not here in Massachusetts, we're far too liberal for that, but what the saying is actually referring to is one that purposely, and temporarily disguises themselves in order to obtain a certain objective in a particular population.

In other words, hide who they really are, blend in, and snatch one of those fooled for a meal. This is a temporary change. A change of convenience. A purposeful deceit.

So, here I am on a Friday morning, the weeks coming to an end, and I wake up with this philosophical puzzlement. Great way to finish out the week. I'd rather be thinking about which color socks to wear.

It is something to think about though, changing ones spots, or blending in for the moment.

We may find out sooner than we know. In the meantime, I have to get some socks on.


  1. Great post! Our local "leopard" came knocking on my door today. I was quick to shoo him away..I will not become his next meal! Funny thing..I live in Walker Pond. I figured he would be smart enough to stay out of this neck of the woods!

  2. What a nerve he has! He must be banking on our short memories! Good thing you can't erase everything posted on the Internet. Lots of hateful pictures, cartoons, and speech that show his true "spots". Glad to see Mr. Goodwin is back in and also Ms. Gimas.

  3. This was really a good article I loved it. Will our local predator I mean politician change his spots? Never. He is more of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He will say and do what ever it takes to reach his goal of becoming a selectman. The Planning Board is not enough for him. Power is his game and he will do what ever it takes to get it. There is not an honest bone in his body. It is all about him. He will be in your neighborhood soon if he hasn’t been already just like he promised. Beware people.

  4. The Local Leopard had the audacity to go door to door in a neighborhood that he has repeated targeted on his hateful blogs. The Leopard went so far to go to the door of a family member whose family has been the prey of the Leopard as he continues to craft false accusations, lies and innuendo in hopes to crush the family. This Leopard is crazy, stay safe and don’t let him in your home.

  5. Creamer aka the leopard boasts on his blogs that he has knocked on 600+ doors this past week, yet I hear that he didn’t attend his Planning Board meeting this week, nor did he attend the meeting two weeks prior. Before voters consider the Erhardt/Leopard team for the two open Selectmen seats they should look at the leopard’s attendance record.

  6. The article is very good, but I think everyone is assuming too much. No where in the article does it mention anyone by name, or local politics. I think we assume too much. It is true that it could be applied to some politicians, but we shouldn't assume anything, or place a name with a behavior on this article alone, should we? Maybe a lot of people have been hurt very badly, and it is natural for them to link a person with something like this. I guess that can't be helped actually.

  7. Last year at the town meeting, Jim Ehrhard was goofy. He wanted big box stores and said bring it all on I want it all. He put on a show. His performance at the recent special town meeting was a pathetic attempt for notoriety. His antics to postpone the town hall renovations were clown-like. He had no idea what to do and could not make up his mind, talking to himself actually. It was almost disturbing. Now there are Ehrhard signs all over town a little over kill “look at me it is all about me” they scream. Tom Creamer was totally against the renovation but had no back up plan. He spoke endlessly about nothing. He wore his sheep’s clothing that night. Both men showed they were not leaders and out of touch with the voters. I will not vote for either. I am happy to see that Priscilla Gimas is running. She has my vote as well as Ted Goodwin.


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