My original intent at the moment of capture was to give my 10-22 zoom a workout, capturing a classic foreground, middleground, and background. This was semi-soft semi-mottled 9 AM lighting. The boardwalk into the marsh gave me a peaceful, restful emotion at the time - I was attracted to the dapples of golden light on the neutral grey wood. The composition compromised my ability to do anything artisitic, but I feel the emotion
Bob, I think you accomplished much of what you set out to do. The foreground, middleground, background works well, particularly with the shadowed part of the foreground cropped. The composition is nice and the boardwalk works well in the composition. The lighting is as you describe and I think you have captured it well--I particularly like the lighting on the reeds and on the boardwalk. The fact that the mood is peaceful and restful rather than dramatic isn't a fault in my opinion.
But what is missing?--I gather you're not satisfied, which is why you posted the photo. Part of the problem is the presence of some distracting elements as mentioned above. But also I think the photo needs some kind of emotional "hook" to draw the viewer in--a bird in the sky, a cloud with some interesting lighting, a child's toy left on the boardwalk, etc. As it is, the photo seems a little empty.
If this is near your home, why not go back several times and see what happens? Fill up your Compact Flash card; electrons are cheap. Lisa mentioned the possibility of a triptych. Perhaps you could do a triptych of shots of the same scene, with different lighting or in different seasons. To me that would definitely add some emotional content and interest.
Having participated in a few of these "critiques" in the past couple weeks, both as photographer and as reviewer, I have to say that I think the exercise is very valuable. I am learning just as much by commenting on your photo and reading the other comments as I have in seeing comments on my own shots. In fact, the process of thinking about your photo has also made me think more about some of the comments I received and reinforces some of what I learned. It is good to be looking at shots that are troublesome, not just the ones that worked, because that's how we learn. I hope you'll keep posting your work.