It was a hot and muggy day with a drizzle of rain, steaming as it hit the pavement.
Then, in the middle of nowhere, an arrow pointed to a peach orchard, (pick-your-own if you prefer), bordered by a vegetable garden as long as a city block.
The peach shed (poles and a roof) shaded tables of baskets of peaches, some still sporting green leaves. The butterbeans were long gone, snapped up by savvy shoppers, but there were bags of zipper peas and home-made peach ice cream, soft and cool.
The tenders of the crop were three teenagers, cousins. The peach and vegetable farm belonged to their grandparents, they told us. The cousins' bleached hair and suntans were proof they'd done their share of picking fruit and vegetables.
"You can choose out your own," one of the boys said to me, smiling. It took a minute to understand he meant I could swap over-ripe peaches for others in a basket. There were plenty to make the grade.
On the way home, peaches in tow, I fell into a daydream about the young lives back at the peach orchard. Were they bound to their grandparents' land, locked into a future of peach crops surviving hot summers, trucked to markets, paying for mortgages and groceries?
Wouldn't it take a leap of faith to trust weather, pray for rain or winters without hard freezes? Could calloused hands and aching backs guarantee a loyal public, choosing Hollandville peaches over others?
Georgia has been shipping peaches "up Nawth" since the late 1800s, when the "Elberta," fleshy and named for a farmer's wife, charmed the taste buds of city dwellers as far away as New York.
But new numbers tell. South Carolina has taken over as the darling of the peach industry in the South, shipping 90,000 tons of peaches in the summer while Georgia ships half as many.
With its long growing season, California reigns as queen of peach producers, causing one Georgia grower, quoted in a bragging rights article, to describe California's crop as, well, tasteless.
"They can grow more peaches and prettier peaches, but they taste like cardboard," the orchard manager said.
Southern peaches have their own unique qualities - juicy, sweet and firm enough to claim attention from those of us who wait all year to bite into one and laugh when peach juice runs down a messy chin.
In a recent litany of jobs of the future, farm workers are not listed. Those who bale hay and pick peaches and butterbeans, fill the backs of pick-up trucks with corn and are careful not to bruise tomatoes, will not enjoy catered lunches as a vocational perk, but they will be in the fields.
And they'll share one aspect of unsung occupations in this country, on-the-job training. Of the 30 ongoing job opportunities today, only eight require a college degree.
This is not to say the cousins under the peach shed should kick back after their high school prom and trust discerning palettes to choose Georgia peaches over California's, ensuring a farmer's grandchildren a good life, rooted in red clay.
Still, here's the paradox. While the future and our country's competitive edge will rely on jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the need for workers who take on jobs they sweat through increases.
Home health aides, restaurant help, construction and landscape laborers, hospital orderlies and farm workers are not guaranteed bonuses and retirement incomes, but their muscle and patience are needed to tackle jobs we won't or can't do.
The young cousin, offering to let me "choose out" peaches, was a reminder hard work is often wrapped in kindness and pride in a job.
Judy Elliott is an award-winning columnist from Marietta.