Those of the first Icelandic immigrants who imagined that America was Eden, and nothing was necessary other than to gather the fruit from the trees, were obviously disappointed.
The story goes that one of them was walking in the woods and saw hanging from the branch of a tree a large grey ball of wool. In the old country, it took a little more than that to produce textiles – to pick the wool, card it, spin and twist it, then wind up the yarn into a ball. But here in America, the wool balls grew on trees. He took the ball off the tree and tucked it into his bosom. Now he would have some new grey stockings. The worst was that nothing white was available in stocking yarn, there were no sheep in the whole of New Iceland, and nowhere could one find a white wool ball hanging from a tree.
While he was thinking about this, a fire was burning on his chest and something monstrous was always flitting about his face. He had pains in his chest and his cheeks. There was so much dust around him that he could not see the sun. He was only sure that something had caught fire on him and he was burning to death. He was determined not to let the wool ball burn and snatched it out of his bosom. Then he perceived that the dust was streaming out of a hole in the wool ball. This was of course the nest of poisonous insects, though he did not know it at the time. He decided not to keep the ball at this time and threw it away. The wool ball was bound to be hollow inside and there was nothing there worth keeping. This sort of textile material was unknown in Iceland.