It was a strange sound on a quiet, drizzly day at the Back Bay Fens — the growl of a chainsaw buzzing from the depths of the sleepy community garden.
Norm Helie, a plant and soil scientist, thought to investigate. He came upon two men, without city uniforms, standing over a chunk of wood they said came from Jamaica Plain. His eyes landed on the specimen: a beautiful knot of ornately patterned red oak. Fishy, he thought. He walked away, then called 911.