First Silver Sage Summit
by Peter Kravitz
The first Silver Sage Summit, held at publisher Tracy Hill’s tranquil country home in Hellertown, Pennsylvania, featured six chicks and bloody fighting.
No, neither the Silver Sage writers nor the chickens squared off and battled.
Rather, Tracy and her partner, Rodney Reynolds, had their six chickens milling about the Summit afternoon. Big Bird, the friendliest of the chicks, excitedly ran and semi-flew about the group. We even got to hold him—a first for my wife, Jennifer. Tracy’s dog, Sigmund Freud, stayed on the lookout for foxes to keep the birds safe. And the bloody fighting? Well, that came later.
Interestingly, the delicious barbecue included chicken, but none of the birds on the menu were from the flock. The amiable chickens clucked and plucked near our feet. Tracy assured us it was okay to eat chicken, but I had reservations. You see, five years ago I met a couple of delightful cows at a farm in New Paltz, New York, and have not tasted cow since. So eating chicken with chickens clucking around me was difficult.
Six of Silver Sage’s contributing writers and their spouses took part,
and when you put writers together there are invariably a lot of stories to tell. As with many Silver Sagers, those stories initially were on caregiving of our older parents. Tracy explained how she had saved her 83-year-old mother’s life twice in the past month—once from a hemoglobin drop and the other from a medication mix-up. Donna Scrafano, a Pennsylvania writer, had just lost her 91-year-old father. But the stories then broadened. Angie Littlefield, who drove to the gathering from Toronto with Lucy Black, related her adventures in Europe and Argentina, diving in a shark cage in South Africa, and exploring her homeland, Canada. She also told us about her potential dream trip to Siberia.
Tracy called a Summit meeting to discuss Silver Sage’s current status and its direction for 2020. That concluded, she informed us that after dinner we all had to watch an MMA preliminary fight on ESPN featuring up-and-coming UFC fighter, Cory Sandhagen. Sandhagen is a family friend of Tracy and her children. Indeed, her son Matt was there at the fight venue, the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Sandhagen entered the fight ranked number nine in the bantamweight division, with his opponent the veteran Brazilian, number-three-ranked Raphael Assuncao. Yet Sandhagen was favored in the fight.
Many of the writers and their spouses had never seen a UFC fight before, but Angie seemed to attain UFC expert status after viewing this single fight. Lucy, on the other hand, covered her face and chewed her fingernails, horrified by the blood and violence. “Why do you watch this?” she asked.
Meanwhile, in her fervent support of Sandhagen, Tracy yelled helpful fight moves at the television as Cory controlled the match on his feet, switching back and forth between right-handed and left-handed striking and kicking.
Assuncao preferred the match on the ground and every time he managed to pull Sandhagen down, the writers gasped as the Brazilian tried his best to assert physical dominance or apply choke holds. But Sandhagen did a great job escaping and maintaining his control over his higher-ranked opponent. Everyone relaxed as Cory captured this UFC fight with a unanimous decision. Sandhagen will now look for a shot at the titleholder, Henry Cejudo, the former U.S. 2008 Olympic gold medalist freestyle wrestler. And I’m sure that our fearless publisher will hope to be there covering the event. After Cory’s fight, Tracy declared we didn’t have to watch the rest of the matches if we so chose. Lucy was clearly relieved.
We all know writers like to talk and tell their stories, but Jude Joseph Lovell also distinguished himself that evening as a terrific listener. “If I could clone Jude, then Silver Sage would be in the next stratosphere,” Tracy said, discussing his social media prowess and mentioning his depth as a writer. Afterwards, twenty-something Cait Heil helped the Silver Sagers with social media and explained how to set up Twitter and post on Instagram. Heil was an original “crew member,” as Tracy described her, prior to the current rule that you have to be forty or older to be part of the magazine.
The evening was capped by Rodney’s delicious grilled peaches with brown sugar and butter, topped with vanilla ice cream. The Summit was a great success. Tracy said that this will be an annual event and that she hopes more Silver Sage writers will be able to attend year year.
Peter Kravitz is a former Philadelphia reporter who currently teaches Journalism in New York. He's been published in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Newsday and is a regular contributor to Silver Sage Magazine.