Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 490
Affirming that it is never too late to find happiness, “Settled on the Cranberry Coast” is a mellow, unsentimental story about Eddie, a middle-aged, single high school history teacher who has just retired and who runs into Rosie, a single woman on whom he once had a crush. When Eddie and Rosie were in high school, they did not run in the same crowd. She is half Indian and hung around with rough guys who drove pickups and wore leather jackets. Eddie lost sight of her after high school. He went to college in the East and lived for a few years with a woman he thought he would marry before coming back to Washington State to teach. After his retirement, he advertises himself as a carpenter and plumber and gets a call from Rosie, now a park ranger, who has just bought a house that needs a lot of work.
When Eddie goes to Rosie’s house, he meets Hannah, her six-year-old granddaughter, who she is raising after Rosie’s daughter Carolyn abandoned her. Eddie goes to see his sister, Jodie, who is principal of the elementary school and gets angry with her when she asks if he has a problem with Carolyn leaving Hannah with Rosie. Rosie tells him about Carolyn, who was working on a California strawberry farm when she brought Hannah home and later moved to Mexico; she has not heard from her in more than a year. The only appearance in the story of the man who is Carolyn’s father occurs when he shows up in a tractor to get his mail and urinates in Rosie’s driveway.
Eddie’s growing closeness to Hannah is evident when they go to a kite festival; he is envious that a man he knows can tease Hannah and talk to her easily. When Eddie’s sister comes to visit and brings a bottle of wine and a twelve-pack of beer, Eddie, his sister, and Rosie begin to get slightly drunk. For the first time, Rosie talks openly about Carolyn, saying she is no longer a part of her life or Hannah’s. “She is not even something I think about any more,” Rosie says. “She’s gone, gone, gone. And now here’s Eddie.”
Eddie spends the night on Rosie’s sofa, and the next morning, when Hannah gets up, he asks her to go with him to a nearby town to buy some radiators for the house. On the drive, Eddie allows himself for the first time to think about marrying Rosie. Hannah goes to sleep, and Eddie carries her into the store while he buys the radiators. As the radiators are being loaded into his car, he stands under an overhang waiting for the rain to stop, holding Hannah, her head on his shoulder. He knows he is on the verge of something, and he just stands and waits, listening to her easy, settled breathing.
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