We have finally reached what many, including myself, consider the best time of the year.
Sports fans have plenty to cheer about. The mouths of foodies are surely watering. People who love sweaters are unpacking their favorites. Leaf watchers are about the see a palette full of colors. Romantics have to be waiting for the right moment to light a fire in their outdoor pits and chimneys.
High school, college and professional football rule these days. It's great to have South Carolina and Clemson in the national polls. The last time the Gamecocks were ranked so high in the polls (this was written before Saturday's game against LSU) was my senior year at South Carolina. The Gamecocks reached No. 2 after two weeks at No. 5.
Greenwood, Abbeville and McCormick are ranked in the state's high school football poll. Greenwood is making its fans happy with an unblemished record (again, this was written before Friday's games).
The Atlanta Falcons sit atop the NFC South and are one of two undefeated teams in the NFL. Go Falcons!

Major League Baseball is starting its second round of playoff games. The National Basketball Association's first games of the season are at the end of this month. If not for the lockout, the National Hockey Association season would already by under way. We do have the minor league Road Warriors in Greenville for those who need a hockey fix.
Lander University's men's and women's soccer teams are doing well this season. Both are undefeated in the Peach Belt Conference with the guys ranked No. 16 nationally in NCAA Div. II.
Sports goes hand-in-hand with one aspect of food. From what I've been told, area tailgaters have their affairs down to a science.
Pumpkins and apples are the flavor of the season. For some reason this year, there seems to be so many more ways to get your fill of pumpkin. There's everything from pie and milk to cookies and spreads.
I'm addicted to pumpkin spice coffee and have gone through more than my share of K-cups of the liquid goodness.
Warmed apple cider is right behind the pumpkin spice coffee as the favored drink these days.
Homemade apple pie baking is a great way to add a hint of fall to the house. Having apples to add to recipes where they're not called for is a pleasant surprise when it works.
Boiled peanuts ain't bad this time of year, either.
I love sweaters, and if I can't wear a sweater, my second option is a turtleneck.
Years ago when I was a sports writer here at the paper, I went out to Greenwood High School to do a preview of the football team.
The night before was a little crisp and I broke out a lightweight sweater. When I got to the practice field, then GHS coach Willis Burkett thought I was totally out of my mind.
I still haven't put on a sweater yet, but turtlenecks are part of the wardrobe.
Lake Greenwood, Ninety Six Historic Site and all the state parks in the area will be bursting with color any day now. While the mountains offer amazing views and lots of color, our local options also can be spectacular.
The fireplace hasn't been stoked and the first fire in the fire pit or chimney hasn't been lit yet; I expect it to happen anytime now.
Picture this: a fire is roaring in front of you on a brisk, clear night filled with twinkling stars. On the ground are a ton of leaves that fell earlier. You're sitting there in a sweater and wrapped in a blanket enjoying a mug of pumpkin spice coffee and a bag of boiled peanuts and listening to a football game on the radio. It doesn't get much better than that.

Sitarz can be reached at 943-2529 or via email at jsitarz@indexjournal.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.