Come with us for a moment out onto the porch. Just like that, we’ve entered another world without leaving home. In this liminal space, an endless array of absorbing philosophical questions arises: What does it mean to be in a place? How does one place teach us about the world and ourselves? What do we—and the things we’ve built—mean in this world? In a time when reflections on the nature of society and individual endurance are so paramount, Charlie Hailey’s latest book is both a mental tonic and a welcome provocation. Solidly grounded in ideas, ecology, and architecture, The Porch takes us on a journey along the edges of nature where the outside comes in, hosts meet guests, and imagination runs wild.
Hailey writes from a modest porch on the Homosassa River in Florida. He sleeps there, studies the tides, listens for osprey and manatee, welcomes shipwrecked visitors, watches shadows on its screens, reckons with climate change, and reflects on his own acclimation to his environment. The profound connections he unearths anchor an armchair exploration of past porches and those of the future, moving from ancient Greece to contemporary Sweden, from the White House roof to the Anthropocene home. In his ruminations, he links up with other porch dwellers including environmentalist Rachel Carson, poet Wendell Berry, writers Eudora Welty and Zora Neale Hurston, philosopher John Dewey, architect Louis Kahn, and photographer Paul Strand.
As close as architecture can bring us to nature, the porch is where we can learn to contemplate anew our evolving place in a changing world—a space we need now more than ever. Timeless and timely, Hailey’s book is a dreamy yet deeply passionate meditation on the joy and gravity of sitting on the porch.