Imagine being a warrior or even a merchant in the lands of eastern Slavs, ancient Rus. The roads away from home could prove to be dangerous: you could encounter other warriors serving a hostile prince, bands of outlaws, and all kinds of mythic creatures, good and not so much.
Was that the wind or Nightingale the Robber--born and raised near Briansk, my father's birthplace--up in the tree where the path disappears in the brush?
And sometimes, there would be no roads all.
This is why, whenever one had a long journey ahead of him, my ancestors would say, "Let the road become a tablecloth," smooth and predictable.
Nowadays, that expression has the opposite interpretation, "Good riddance!", as do many others. "Putting a spell on one's teeth," for instance--in order to cure them--was once literal. Today, it means to distract someone's attention away from the real issues at hand.
Incidentally, the way I shot this image reminds me of Takao-san forest outside of Tokyo, although it is from the prairies.