The third place pool trophy
One day, some years ago, I was at the Chilliwack river with my dog Suzy. That river is forever changing. Only its character remains the same. In fact we had once arrived, to find the river gone. We walked across the dry bed to what had been the opposite bank. It was a strange feeling to stand where, not long before, deep and powerful currents had flowed. As the frozen wind howled along the empty river bed, we wondered where the river had gone. Had it somehow dammed itself upstream? How long might that dam last? Could it suddenly let go, and send torrents of icy water and driftwood hurtling towards us, scouring and energizing the loose rocks and boulders from its now empty course? We continued across, and found the river half a mile further on. That bed is still dry, and now overgrown. The river has not returned to its former course.
The day this story started was not so strange. The river is different every time you go. It slowly moves its massive load of rounded rocks downstream. In spate it moves them faster, and excavates its banks on its curves. Underneath the swift water, the rocks also flow, just slower. They pile up in new formations. Things long-buried are left exposed. I saw something that looked different, like rusty steel, and getting closer realized that it was indeed a manufactured object, cylindrical and round. Dislodging the still half-buried prize revealed something the size and shape of those insulated coffee mugs that have a narrow base to fit your car’s cup holders. But it was heavy, steel and aluminium, corroded, encrusted
and rusty. I rinsed it in the river, and took it home.
Earlier this year Millie Watson and I reached the semi-final of the AFC pool tournament. We lost that game, and vowed to try again next year. In jest I also vowed to make our own trophy – for
Some weeks later, the long-forgotten chalice spoke. A silent voice issued from the mouth of the cup: “I am the Third Place Trophy”. In obedience to its urging, I cleaned the cup in acid, fixed it on a base, and made a plaque. It celebrates those of us that didn’t win, whose pictures were not published, those for whom the victors’ laurels remain ever elusive — but yet without our numbers there would be no victors. It is a trophy to participation.
Of course another team had also reached their own semi-final, and they too had lost. They too were Third. Their names should also be on this trophy. But who they are I do not know. And somehow, that is the point of this story. All of us who strive towards the prize, are part of it.