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Timing of summer's end a matter of perspective for Western Pennsylvanians

| Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, 10:50 p.m.
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
Emily Dernovsek, 8, of Bethel Park enjoys sweet corn on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, at Rib Fest on the North Shore.
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
Wen Wang of Dormont snaps photos of the barbecue being cooked on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, at Rib Fest on the North Shore.
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
Peter Ogden, 3, of Bethel Park takes a break on the shoulders of his father, Matt, on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, at Rib Fest on the North Shore.
Andrew Russell | Trib Total Media
Mason Bizyak, 6 of Peters naps as his dad, Matt, 41, carries him past PNC Park after the University of Pittsburgh football game at Heinz Field on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014.
Andrew Russell | Trib Total Media
Pitt season-ticket holders Greg Churpes, 47, of Ross (left) and Scott Sandage, 50, of West View, Pitt fans head home between the Pirates and University of Pittsburgh games on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 on the North Shore.
Andrew Russell | Trib Total Media
Dempsey Cowan, 7, of Sarver catches a pass in a parking lot outside PNC Park between the Pirates and University of Pittsburgh games on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, on the North Shore.
Andrew Russell | Trib Total Media
Lucas Wells, 5, of Peters jokes with Bryan Glasspool, 37, of Imperial in a parking lot outside PNC Park between the Pirates and University of Pittsburgh games on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, on the North Shore.
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
Barbecue enthusiasts and Pitt fans walk through the vendor's row on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, at Rib Fest on the North Shore.
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
Owen Baker, 7, has a ride pointed out to him by his grandfather, Duane Rolfsen, on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, on the North Shore. The family, from northern Kentucky, was in town for the Pirates-Reds game.
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
Sara Curran and Jason Fecik enjoy ribs on Saturday, Aug 30, 2014, at Rib Fest next to Heinz Field on the North Shore,

A date on the calendar, the sun's position relative to the Earth's equator, and even Google can tell us when seasons start and stop.

Yet folks in Western Pennsylvania often mark the end of summer and start of fall differently.

“As long as the Pirates are still playing, it's summer,” said Dave Clement, 74, of Greensburg while walking outside PNC Park, hours before Pirates fans filled North Shore parking lots for the last game of a series against the Cardinals.

Fall won't start “until the Pirates have their final say,” Clement said. Once that happens, he roots for the Steelers, followed by winters cheering on the University of Pittsburgh basketball team before baseball warms up in spring.

Autumn officially begins on Sept. 22, according to the calendar. The sun will shine directly on the equator; day and night will be equal in length. About 724 million Google search results will tell you that.

For many, however, summer ends this weekend.

“Labor Day, that's the end of summer,” said Bree Nixon, 18, of Bridgeville, a first-year student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. “I go to bed earlier. That's when summer ends for me. I start to take school seriously.”

Children who haven't gone back to school will do so in the coming days. Football games have started. The North Shore lots filled for a Steelers preseason game on Thursday and Pitt's opener on Saturday.

And the tomatoes and corn are just as Art King likes them — ripe and tasty.

“It seems like in the fall is when everything tastes better,” said King, 59, owner of Harvest Valley Farms in Valencia, Butler County. “I really don't understand why that is.”

Labor Day marks the peak of King's vegetable season — its hump day, he said.

Harvesting slows during September, flattens out by October, and except for a few hardy crops, nearly stops with the first frost.

Then the days shorten, leaving less time to work in the fields after his 5 p.m. dinner and evening cup of coffee.

“Of course you can see the weather change. When you go out in the morning, the dew is so heavy you have to have a raincoat just to walk through the cornfield,” King said.

King said he loves fall, if only because of the tomatoes and the corn.

Brian Luna, 31, of New Kensington is not a fan of the season.

“No more fun anymore,” he said of the end of summer.

Luna, who works for Folino Construction in Oakmont, said his weekends will fill with chores and errands. Work with concrete will taper off in November.

“You really can't pour concrete when it's cold and icy,” he said.

And although winter might seem months away — its official start is Dec. 21 — Pittsburgh's Department of Public Works will soon check salt stockpiles and prep snowplows.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

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