"WATERLOO, Ontario — Jack Williams and his sister, Cara, sat in their kitchen watching their backyard rink melt.
“Dad calls it a big birdbath,” said Jack, who is 12.
Their father, Ian, lovingly rebuilds the rink every year. He shovels it clear after each snowfall, and occasionally finishes the 24-foot-by-48-foot surface with hot water. He frets over every leaf that lands on the ice: they warm with the sunlight and create mini-craters.
A rink like the Williamses’ used to offer good skating in this part of Canada from early December into March. But on this late February afternoon, the temperature outside was 55 degrees and rain had fallen steadily all day. The week before, two feet of snow — mostly gone now, with leftover mounds seeping foggy wisps into the saturated air — blanketed the ground."