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I miss the days when we learned of strange doings and sub/urban happenings through living social networks, word of mouth, cheap photocopied zines and ads in the local alternative media, and other places that seemed cool when I was twenty-one. Notices posted on wooden poles and the sides of buildings and over the urinals in the men's rooms at trendy clubs and dive bars.

I found out about the Night Market from such an ad, posted to a hydro pole downtown. They had an online presence, sure, but if I'd learned of them through Facebook or Twitter, I doubt I would've gone. Nostalgia motivated us as much as anything, fifty-somethings looking at our younger days through sunglasses at night:

THE DARK HARVEST.
A Strange, & Curious Night Market.

An old building housed it, storeys of red brick outside and yellow brick walls within. The first floor felt like a loft or a basement. A witch market, my wife dubbed it, because of so many neoPagan elements and people in black, looking for a Scene to emerge. Mostly, the vendors dealt in art and crafts. The organizers hoped it would grow. I appreciate the fact of its existence, but it felt somehow dated, something that would have been interesting in another era to a younger me. One browser resembled uncannily Elvis Costello, circa 1977, just waiting for the end of the world.

It's a university town. We have local artists and several celebrated summer festivals. Given time, the Dark Harvest might grow.

We left after a short visit, to chilly streets and drinks before closing. And we saw them, among the market-curious and the rowdy, club-soused students:

Long dark cloaks and broad hats, and those masks that resemble demonic birds. Were they going to the market? Had the organizers hired them? Were they testing their costumes for Halloween? What had seventeenth-century Plague Doctors to do with us? They were visitors from the past, and, though neither we nor they could know it, the shadows of things to come.