Laetitia and her group left Winnipeg and headed north. Their destination was Hecia/Grindstone Provincial Park on the western shore of Lake Winnipeg. There they hiked and canoed among the park’s several islands. After spending much of the day there, they headed for Riverton, their destination for the evening.
Not to be out done by Darwin, Minnesota, made famous by being the subject of Weird Al Yankovic’s Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota, Riverton claims to have the “largest moose in Manitoba,” based on a fourteen-foot-high statue of this bovine animal, known as “Lundi Moose,” prominently displayed in a small park in its downtown. The town also has 800 residents, a part-time mayor and a heritage museum, housed in the town’s former railroad station. In 1979, the area attracted numerous astronomers and other interested parties who came to view the solar eclipse from its point of maximum totality.
Commercial fishing on nearby Lake Winnipeg is a major occupation in the town. Laetitia made a reservation at a restaurant that featured fish and chips from the days catch, dropped off her guests at their lodging, and found a nearby bar. Not much happens in Riverton, so even though the eclipse occurred before many of the people in the bar were born, it was still a topic of conversation. Sitting next to Laetitia at the bar was a man who said he was a former government entomologist. He visited the town on a number of occasions in connection with his job and had decided to retire here. He happened to be here on the day of the eclipse. His boss in Winnipeg, who was clueless when it came to astronomical phenomena, sent him here to investigate a reported outbreak of thrips. He couldn’t conduct his investigation in the dark, so he spent the afternoon in the bar with a gaggle of eclipse aficionados followed by a fish and chips dinner before going to a motel. On the next day he conducted his investigation and returned to Winnipeg. Thrips, those small cigar-shaped insects, can devastate crops if present in sufficient numbers, but he found that this infestation was not sufficient to warrant intervention. Laetitia turned the entomologist’s story into the limerick of the day.
It’s hard to investigate thrips
In the midst of a total eclipse
So be of good cheer
Treat yourself to a beer
And a dinner of fresh fish and chips.