It’s Like a Jungle Up Here

If you visit Clothed with Joy regularly you may know that I am from New Jersey. I realize that NJ is not “up” to a large portion of the world and for that I’m very sorry. It’s just how we talk, plus most jungles tend to be located geographically south of the North East, USA. FYI.

Eastern_Grey_Squirrel

Fact: Squirrels like the sound of my screams.

This morning I startled a squirrel. Squirrels in New Jersey are aggressive. I still have memories of being chased around the block by a squirrel as a child. I am not kidding. Around the whole block. It happened.

squirrel hole

Squirrel hole.

If you visit just about any outside trashcan lid in South Jersey you will find that a hole has been chewed into it. A squirrel hole. I once came home to find a squirrel on my lawn holding a piece of pizza by the crust and chowing down. Not kidding. It happened.

This morning I startled a squirrel. Apparently, I startled the squirrel enough that he leaped out of the adjoining trashcan and onto my thigh. This is the honest to goodness truth. This stuff happens to me. Neighbors four blocks over heard the screams.

A few months ago I was at the Philadelphia Zoo with my girls. It was winter and a little snowy so we ate our lunch at one of the many picnic tables near the carousel.

Picnic tables + zoo = Squirrel Hunting Grounds.

As we were eating lunch a squirrel came over and sniffed around our table. G, who is terrified of animals (zoo animals don’t affect her) started to get a little panicked. The squirrel continued to get more and more aggressive and moved from under the table by our feet up on to the table with us. G was in a full scale freak out by this point. I shooed the squirrel and spoke calmly to the children, who were now all sitting on the same side of the table opposite to me and somewhat freaked out as well (I don’t blame them).

The squirrel had moved on, so I instructed the children in my most momly voice to ignore the squirrel and it would go away.

KERCHUNK

“AAAAAAARRRRHHHHHHHGGGGG! IT’S ON MY BACK!” I screamed.

The squirrel leaped off the table behind me and clung onto my back spread eagle for a good half second. If only someone had been videotaping, we would be millionaires.

It’s like a jungle up here, and the squirrels like the sound of my screams.

 

I once had a squirrel in my dining room, remember this post with the squirrel trap? That’s nothing compared to the monkey in my kitchen, but that’s another story.

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Everyone is Friendlier Than People from New Jersey

 

NJ t

Everyone is friendlier than people from New Jersey.

I am a born and bred South Jersey girl, and honestly, I never really believed the above statement was true until I was away this past weekend. I drove oh so far away, it took a whole hour and fifteen minutes to get there and I crossed an actual state line, but I may as well have been in another country. I walked (like Forrest) around this little PA town and everyone (and when I say “everyone,” I mean EVERYONE) greeted me as I passed by. Fellow walkers, people on bikes, working people – every variety and age of human being said, “Hello” and/or asked How I was.

At one point, after walking for about an hour and having everyone and their brother (literally) acknowledge me in some way,  I passed by a house where three adults were standing far back on the property in the middle of a discussion. As I came closer I thought to myself, they are totally gonna stop talking and say “hello” to me. And you know what? THEY DID.

People from New Jersey think they are friendly. We recognize that Southerners are certainly way higher up on the Friendliness scale than we are but other than that, I don’t think we actually believe the whole “New Jersey people aren’t friendly” thing.

We honestly believe that we are friendly.

I feel friendly. I talk to people in grocery lines. I smile at people walking by. I almost always at least say “Hi” if I pass a dog walker on the bike path. I even bring Welcome Gifts to new neighbors.

I  truly believed, until this past weekend that is, that I was friendly. Maybe not Southern friendly, but friendly.

Traveling to another state shot that idea to crap. I realized that, yes, I AM friendly, but in a NJ friendly kind of way which probably doesn’t translate to other areas of the world as “friendliness” but to us New Jerseyians, it totally does. We get it.

For instance, if I am walking down the street and someone is passing by on the other side, I will politely ignore them so as not to disturb them from their internal revelry. NOT acknowledging a passerby so as not to disturb them, translates as friendly to a NJ person. If however, I am passing on the same side of the street as another person, I might nod and smile, I may even go so far as to say, “Hi.” And that right there is like Girl Scout Badge Award Winning Super Duper friendly in New Jerseyland. We are friendly in our own minds.

At least I am.

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