LONDONDERRY — Hank Peterson has been making maple syrup for about 30 years in his rustic sugarhouse on Peabody Row.
Sugaring season is as fickle as New England weather. This has been an up-and-down year, with prolonged cold temperatures delaying the start of the season.
Sandy Coulombe has been helping Peterson for about 15 years, the only one he said he trusts to help boil.
Using a combination of traditional metal buckets and plastic tubing, the two gather sap on Peterson's property and that of some neighbors, collecting sap in two metal holding tanks in the barn until they have enough to boil.
Steam rising from the sugarhouse lets would-be visitors know when they can stop in to watch the process of boiling 40 gallons of sap down to a single gallon of syrup.
Peterson burns pine because it burns hot and it's free, he said.
The air inside the sugarhouse is thick with heat and sweetness when they're boiling.
At almost 84, Peterson said he doesn't plan to stop sugaring anytime soon.
"What else would you do in March in New Hampshire?" he asked.